THE opening of the final section of new railway between central Oxford, Bicester and London could be delayed until next summer.

Work to complete the line between Oxford Parkway at Water Eaton, and Oxford station in the city centre, cannot take place until Network Rail secures final permissions from Oxford City Council.

The local authority must approve measures to reduce noise and vibration for nearby homes, with the last section of track being considered east of Burgess Fields in North Oxford.

It had been hoped by train operator Chiltern Railways that work could be complete by next spring.

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But Network Rail consents manager Paul Panini said it was now not expected to be finished until next May or June, even if permission was secured by the end of this year.

He said: “This is the last section in our package of works.

“It always takes a little bit longer than you think to get these things agreed and we are where we are.

“We think we would get to completion of the tracks by April, with signalling works carried out in May or June.”

Network Rail’s work is part of the £130m East West Rail scheme to create a new line between Oxford, Bicester and London Marylebone.

The rest of the route, between Oxford Parkway, Bicester and London Marylebone, is mostly completed and services are due to start running in October.

A spokesman for train operator Chiltern Railways said the firm still hoped to open services to central Oxford by the spring, something it cannot do until work on the north Oxford section of track is complete.

He added: “We continue to develop a programme of work that will allow us to achieve this.”

Delays to the final works on the north Oxford section of track have been caused by long-running concerns about noise and vibrations raised by residents.

Last week Network Rail unveiled proposed mitigation measures for noise and vibration along the final stretch of track, which runs parallel to Burgess Field.

Mr Panini said measures to reduce the impact of noise were being proposed for 33 homes and three blocks of flats on the final section, but no measures for vibration.

He said the firm disagreed with residents’ claims that vibrations from trains would damage homes, adding: “We have conducted thorough research and investigations and the data did not indicate that there would be harmful vibrations.

“There was some discrepancy between that and what local residents have been saying but we are confident this is a sound scheme.”

Railway campaigner Keith Dancey, of Upper Wolvercote, claimed Network Rail’s handling of the scheme had been “appalling”.

He said: “Their vibration figures are not realistic and their methodology is wrong.”

An exhibition of the latest plans will take place on Wednesday, September 9, at Waterways Community Room, 51 Clearwater Place, Oxford, from 3pm to 8pm.