BUSINESS leaders have called on Oxfordshire’s transport authority to examine whether a light railway could be the solution to the A40’s “endemic” traffic problems in West Oxfordshire.

Railfuture Thames Valley and other groups are calling on Oxfordshire County Council to carry out an urgent feasibility study into a proposal to reopen the former Witney to Oxford railway line so it could be used by tram-trains.

Lesley Semaine, the chairman of Witney Chamber of Commerce, backed calls for a feasibility study.

She said: “Any better connection to Oxford would be very beneficial.”

Witney held a public holiday when the railway arrived in 1861. But the Beeching cuts saw the last regular passenger train steam out of Witney in 1962. Goods trains stopped in 1970.

The line once served Carterton, Brize Norton, South Leigh and Eynsham. Since the 1960s, traffic along the A40 has worsened for commuters.

Plans to build 5,500 homes in West Oxfordshire by 2029 and Oxford City Council’s 900-home Barton West scheme have heightened concerns.

Railfuture spokesman Hugh Jaeger said: “The problems along the A40 are endemic and we believe Oxford to Witney is such a priority.”

Ian Hudspeth, the leader of the county council, has said improving the A40 could lead to more traffic. He said: “Before we did a study we would have to be reasonably confident that we would get money for it.”