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Monorail dream included in leader’s vision of the future
A NEW monorail could transport people from Wantage to Oxford, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council has said.
Ian Hudspeth announced his vision for transport across southern Oxfordshire as he prepares to hold a public meeting on the issue next week.
The Conservative councillor said he hopes to have the town’s former railway station reopened, but said he is already thinking of alternatives should that not happen.
It is part of his “Connecting Oxfordshire” vision, which he has put together to find out how people want traffic issues tackled, as part of the county council’s new local transport plan.
With an increasing number of high tech jobs in Harwell, Culham and Milton Park, Mr Hudspeth said that area will need a new public transport system.
He said: “Our ambitions for science transit are well known – as is the county council’s desire to see a railway station in Wantage/Grove.
“We’ve done our best to ensure the land for such a station remains preserved. However we are reliant on the rail industry to deliver that along with the services that would serve the new station.
“We will carry on campaigning for that potential new station, however we should also think about other potential options instead of or along with a new station.
“Could the area link up to Oxford via another public transport system such as trams or monorail?”
Mr Hudspeth said he is looking beyond the planned investment in transport in Oxfordshire up to 2020, and on to another wave of transport investment up to 2031.
About 80,000 new jobs and 100,000 new homes are expected to come to the county by that year.
As part of the city deal, the county council and its partner agencies have already announced an intention to use existing transport networks to link Oxfordshire’s areas of employment and innovation.
This programme will see rail stations at Bicester, Oxford Parkway, Oxford, Culham and Didcot receiving investment.
Mr Hudspeth said: “We don’t yet know how much money will be around to spend on improved transport networks but we should see that as an advantage in terms of having an unlimited debate now about what might happen after 2020.”
Mr Hudspeth said the county council has included the station in previous local transport plans.
County councillor for Wantage and Grove Jenny Hannaby said: “I am open-minded about anything that will get people off roads and get them around quicker.
“There is a good case for the station to be reopened because of the growth in the area and I will look with interest at anything Ian has to put forward.”
Sam Kelly, a spokesman for Network Rail, said the company’s funding for 2014-19 was confirmed by the regulator earlier this year and did not include funds for a new station at Wantage.
She said: “We are investing heavily to improve Oxfordshire’s railway and will continue to work with Oxfordshire County Council to discuss their aspirations.’’
Mr Hudspeth will discuss his plans at a public meeting at Wantage Civic Centre from 7pm to 8.30pm on June 25.
- Mr Hudspeth has said he wants to help Banbury continue to attract business and investment by improving its transport infrastructure. He will be holding a special public meeting at Banbury Town Hall on Monday at 7pm to discuss transport.
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