NEW signs are going up for a cycle route which links Oxford and Worcester following the Cotswold Line.

Some 150 signs will guide cyclists along quiet roads and tracks from station to station between Hanborough in West Oxfordshire and Honeybourne near Evesham, Worcestershire, thanks to £4,000 in donations.

Honeybourne will then be linked to Evesham and on to Worcester thanks to cash from Worcestershire County Council.

It is hoped Oxfordshire County Council will fund signs for the remaining short section from Hanborough to Oxford.

The 77-mile route keeps as close as possible to the Cotswold Line.

It is hoped the move will encourage commuters to cycle rather than drive to stations, and encourage more people onto two wheels.

North and West Oxfordshire Sustrans co-ordinator Richard Fairhurst said: “It’s about joining existing quiet lanes and traffic-free tracks so you can have a pleasant ride across the Cotswolds and then get the train home if you like.

“It’s partly for commuters who can cycle rather than drive to a station but also for leisure because it encourages people to get out at weekends and enjoy their bikes.’’ The easy-to-spot blue cycle signs will go at key junctions said Mr Fairhurst, who is also a member of Charlbury Town Council.

Cotswold Line Promotion Group chairman John Ellis said: “We support cycling and measures to increase it because it has environmental and health benefits.It causes less congestion on the roads if people take bikes.’’ “There’s limited capacity on some trains for bikes but what we’re looking for is people getting on and off the trains and cycling for parts of their journeys or booking in advance.”

First Great Western has pledged extra bike racks at stations in Finstock, Heyford, Honeybourne, Kingham, Moreton and Radley, and will provide bike repair facilities at Oxford station.

Integrated transport manager Andrew Saunders said: “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to improve the services we offer to our customers.

“This cycle route will enable customers to take full advantage of travelling in a more sustainable way, making their journey to our stations or using our services to discover a little more of the beautiful North Cotswolds.”

The Cotswolds Conservation Board, First Great Western and Charlbury and Overseas Community Projects – the fundraising arm of the Charlbury Beer Festival – chipped in to the £4,000 pot, and signs will be in place by next month.