OxLEP-backed project major update: Green light for Oxford station and railway transformation following £78.6m funding announcement
The Department for Transport today (17 August) confirmed it has awarded £78.6m to Network Rail to support the redevelopment of Oxford station and railway, helping provide a bigger and better station, more services for passengers and freight, and improved journey times for passengers in the future.
The funding follows the granting of a Transport Works Act Order (TWAO) and will enable Network Rail to significantly transform Oxford station, the railway in Oxfordshire and nearby road network, boosting the number of passengers the station can serve, accommodating new services including freight and improving the accessibility of the station.
This latest funding announcement follows £69m of investment from the government last May to support the development of the design and enabling work. OxLEP has also secured and committed additional investment of £10m towards the project.
The key changes include:
- The introduction of a new track and platform to be added alongside the existing platform 4, creating an island platform on the west side of the station
- A new western station entrance that will be built next to Botley Road and will link up to the new platform via a subway, stairs and lift. The new entrance will make the station more accessible to people living to the west of the station, reducing walking time.
- Improvements to the nearby road network and replacement of Botley Road bridge including the lowering of the road to enable standard double-decker buses to pass underneath for the first time. The new bridge design will also include a four-metre-wide cycle/footpath on each side to encourage sustainable transport and improve safety
- Reduced journey times thanks to three new crossovers, which allow trains to switch tracks at Oxford North Junction
The track work to create three high-speed crossovers at Oxford North Junction will take place over four weekends in September and October. This will mean that there will be no services in or out of Oxford on 10 and 11, 17 and 18, and 24 and 25 September, as well as 1 and 2 October.
Significant preparation work, including the diversion of utilities, needs to be done by the contractor Kier, who were appointed earlier this year, on Botley Road over the coming months, ahead of the bridge being replaced next year. The work to replace the bridge is scheduled to take place between 29 July and 6 August 2023.
During this time Botley Road will be closed to through traffic and there will be no train services in or out of the station. Discussions about the requirement for road closures during the upcoming preparation work are ongoing with Oxfordshire County Council and further information will be announced in the coming weeks.
Outside of London, Oxford is one of the busiest stations in the south, managing more than 8.5 million passengers a year before the pandemic, which has been recovering strongly. The new track and platform on the west side of the station will significantly improve station capacity from 2024 and accommodate new services.
The closure of two level crossings, together with the work to improve the way trains flow into the station, will also increase capacity along the Oxford corridor to accommodate an additional 12 freight trains per day along this key part of the country’s strategic freight network, which will help ensure fuel reaches the petrol pumps, food makes it onto supermarket shelves and household waste is taken to recycling depots.
Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP, said: “We are delighted to learn that this major £78.6m funding allocation towards Oxford Station’s transformation programme has been confirmed.
“Not only will this investment lead to a more positive experience for passengers using the station – plus improvements to north-south and east-west connectivity – but it brings vast knock-on benefits to a variety of other key economic areas too.
“The Oxfordshire economy can play a major role in supporting the national economic recovery from COVID-19 and this investment will go a long way to further enable many of our globally-significant sectors and emerging transformative technologies based in the city.
“Confirmation of this project may also lead to further investor confidence into Oxfordshire, as well as supporting innovation-led projects within close proximity of the station, including the University of Oxford-led and OxLEP-backed Osney Mead Innovation Quarter – a development that will see the creation of exciting new, cutting-edge research facilities, commercial space and accommodation.”
Rail Minister, Wendy Morton, said:“This £161 million will truly transform the region, increasing the number of services for passengers, boosting economic growth by connecting people to new opportunities and increasing freight services between the South and Midlands.”
Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route and strategic operations director, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this significant amount of funding from the Department for Transport, which will enable us to make positive, substantial improvements to Oxford station and the railway for the benefit of our passengers and freight customers.
“Oxford station has been near capacity and in need of a transformation for some time, which this funding will now make a reality. A new entrance, new additional track and platform, and improved accessibility will start to transform this station so that is fit for the 21st Century and significantly enhance capacity for increases in passenger numbers and future services such as East West Rail.
“We recognise there may be some disruption to both passengers and nearby residents while we make these upgrades who we’d like to thank in advance for their patience and understanding. We will ensure we continue to communicate any changes to services and notify residents of any forthcoming work that may impact them.”
GWR Business Development Director Tom Pierpoint said: “We are delighted that the funding required to complete the next stage of the transformation of Oxford station has been agreed. The works will improve the operational flexibility of the station, improving performance, and provide a new station entrance enhancing access to the range of services we offer.
“We will work with Network Rail to minimise disruption to our neighbours while this important work is completed; and we are very keen to continue to build on this successful partnership as we seek to further improve the station, delivering greater economic benefits to the area.”
Councillor Duncan Enright, Cabinet Member for Travel and Development Strategy, Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Our beloved city of Oxford deserves a railway station that is fit for the 21stcentury, and this project delivers on that vision. It is wonderful news for the county’s sustainable transport links. As highways authority, we will be doing all we can to minimise the disruption to residents and visitors resulting from the essential work on the station; despite the short-term inconvenience we all know it will be worth it in the end, making Oxford the welcoming crossroads for the region’s railways.”
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “I’m delighted that the government is supporting this vital redevelopment, which will help sustainable travel to our city. We know that cities are the most sustainable locations for jobs because of the ability to provide housing close by but also public transport hubs. There will be a significant number of new jobs in the West End and wider City Centre over the next few years and we need more passenger services, better freight, and a rail service that can really support businesses, residents and visitors in the city.
“Rail provides fast, sustainable transport and plays an important part in our ambitions to improve air quality and reduce congestion.
“This investment is just the next step on that journey, we will continue to work towards a passenger service on the Cowley Branch Line to connect the south and east of the city, and the further improvements to Oxford Station including the main ticket hall and bus interchange.”
A drop in session regarding this investment will be held this Friday (19 August) between 2pm and 7pm at West Oxford Community Centre.
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