Chiltern Railways this afternoon finally won permission from the Government to create a £130m railway route between Oxford and London, via Bicester.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has approved a Transport and Works Act order allowing the project to proceed after accepting proposed measures to protect bats which use Wolvercote Tunnel in Oxford as a roost.

The line will be the first new Rail link between London and a major British city for 100 years, with the first trains running between Oxford and London Marylebone in 2015, via a new connecting curve from Bicester Town station to the Chiltern main line.

The project includes a new railway station next to the Water Eaton park-and-ride centre, south of Kidlington, and a new Bicester Town station.

Graham Cross, business development director of Chiltern Railways said: “We're pleased to have been granted the power to proceed with this significant railway investment, which will benefit thousands of commuters and businesses in Oxfordshire.”

The recently announced East West Rail project, to link Oxford and Bicester with Milton Keynes and Bedford, will also benefit from Chiltern’s project, with both routes using the line between Oxford and Bicester.

Today's decision to approve Chiltern's scheme follows a public inquiry into the project held in Oxford in 2010-11. It was reopened earlier this year to hear further evidence on measures to protect the bats and other wildlife near the line.