RAIL passengers who travel between Oxford and Bicester say they are hoping a major 18-month railway closure goes to schedule.
Chiltern Railways has said buses will ferry passengers on the A34 when the line between Oxford and Bicester closes for more than a year.
Passenger groups are hopeful Chiltern has got it right. Islip resident Dr Ian East, of the Oxford to Bicester Rail Action Group – who had voiced concerns commuters were being kept in the dark – said: “We are pleased to see they have made an announcement and started a consultation.
“Our main concern is that we get enough buses, which I appreciate is very difficult because a lot of people will jump in their cars.
“Some of the buses are scheduled to arrive later than the current train, and that doesn’t allow for getting stuck in traffic.
“We want to talk to Chiltern about some of the timings, but we are hopeful at the moment that they will get this right.”
Work has already started on the £130m scheme which will see a new railway line created to link Oxford with London Marylebone via Bicester – the first scheme to link two major cities for 100 years.
In February the Oxford-Bicester line will close until summer 2015, and Chiltern is now consulting on the bus service which will run about 14 buses a day, stopping at Islip before heading to Oxford railway station.
Chiltern has said it is aware of congestion on the A34 but says it has designed its timetable to avoid this.
Hugh Jaeger, of the Thames Valley branch of RailFuture, said using the A34 was the company’s only option.
He said: “The main thing is that this is a temporary inconvenience. Chiltern is providing as much of the service as they can and when it reopens we will have an amazingly better railway line.”
Chiltern has proposed that the bus service will run from Monday to Thursday between 6am and 9.50pm from Bicester and 5.15am and 9.05pm from Oxford.
It will also run on Saturdays and Sundays, and all valid rail tickets will be accepted on the service.
The bus journey will take 45 minutes, compared to about 25 minutes by train. There are currently 11 trains on the route Monday-Thursday and 12 on Fridays.
The line between Bicester and the new Oxford Parkway station at Water Eaton will open in summer 2015, but it will not be until spring 2016 that trains complete the journey to Oxford.
Chiltern has said it will consult on a bus service between Oxford Parkway and the city’s main railway station closer to the time.