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Long-awaited plans for Oxford railway station spelled out
OXFORD train station should be redeveloped on its existing site instead of being rebuilt elsewhere, bosses behind a planned revamp say.
Network Rail yesterday submitted a raft of infrastructure plans costing up to £300m, including a new station by 2019.
Its predecessor Railtrack and Oxfordshire County Council had previously backed moving the station to a new site south of the existing station off Oxpens Road.
But Network Rail route managing director Patrick Hallgate yesterday said: “Our preferred option is to leave it where it is. We believe there is little benefit from moving it, from a rail perspective.”
Moving the station further south would be “prohibitively expensive” as the land slopes downwards, he said.
Network Rail wants to add a third platform to the west of the station by the youth hostel and replace the Botley Road bridge to cater for the extra track. That will also see the road space below widened.
Mr Hallgate said passenger numbers have grown by 40 per cent in the last decade and are expected to rise another 40 per cent in the coming 10 years.
A raft of projects is set to boost Oxford’s capacity including faster, bigger electric trains, a line to Milton Keynes and a new link to London Marylebone via Bicester.
Mr Hallgate said: “If we don’t create another platform we will struggle to meet that extra demand.”
The firm, along with council chiefs, is about to put out an invitation for station designs, which would not necessarily mean a complete rebuild.
Network Rail – which owns the station – pledged to continue having 90 per cent of trains arrive within five minutes of schedule during the work.
Mr Hallgate said the current rebuild of Reading station showed this could be done, but there would “inevitably be trade-offs”.
Rodney Rose, deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council, responsible for roads, “totally agreed” with the plans.
He said: “I don’t see the funding being available to move it and, for a transport hub, it is better to be more central in Oxford.”
The authority is keeping an open mind on where parking and bus services would go, he said.
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “Frankly, the cost of moving it further down as people have suggested is astronomical. It is not worth the significant extra expense it would involve.”
But Oxford Civic Society chairman Peter Thompson, who has called for the station to move to land by Oxford Ice Rink, urged a rethink.
He said: “If Network Rail are spending a huge amount of money anyway, the opportunity should be taken to provide Oxford with a properly integrated transport hub.”
OxRail passenger group spokesman Dennis Tan said of Network Rail’s plans: “I don’t think it will go down well with a lot of commuters.
“A lot of people were expecting a brand new station. It is very crowded in peak hours.”
Network Rail’s plan has been submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation which will publish its final decision on how much funding it available in October.
PEOPLE will be able to have their say on billions of pounds of potential investment in the county’s railways tonight.
Members of the public can quiz officers from Network Rail on its five-year investment plan that will see £9bn spent on the Great Western main line by 2019.
Network Rail plans to electrify the line and redevelop Oxford Station as well as creating a new link between the city and London Marylebone.
Yesterday these projects were confirmed as being part of the organisation’s five-year plan.
Some groups, including the Wolvercote Commoners, have expressed concern about the impact the planned schemes would have.
Commoners chairman Michael Buck said: “We want to make sure that the development doesn’t affect the common.
The meeting is at the Town Hall in St Aldate’s, starting at 6.30pm with a presentation on the proposals.