OXFORD has pledged to work with historic rivals to unlock rail routes to cater for thousands of new homes in the coming decades.

Swindon has been brought into discussions over the future growth of Oxfordshire, with the two set to join forces to attract Government backing.

A new commuter rail service linking Oxford and Swindon via Grove and improvements to the A420 and A34 could be brought forward to increase links.

Last week, there was disappointment when the Government missed off a number of Oxfordshire sites in a list of stations closed in the 1960s set to re-open.

However, it is felt that by working with counterparts in Swindon, potentially even including the historic railway town in the Oxford-Cambridge corridor, more funding can be unlocked in the future.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said improving transport across the two regions was crucial as inhabitants of a proposed 8,000-home development east of Swindon could reach Harwell or Culham within 20 minutes.

Mr Price said: "There's a very big plan for expanding Swindon to the east, and for people living there it would be relatively easy to get to work in Harwell or Culham if the transport links are good.

"These are also homes from which people might drive to work in Oxford, so the A420 and rail becomes particularly important.

"It might be that they are formally recognised as part of the wider corridor but we will certainly continue to bring them into the discussions."

Currently rail passengers have to change at Didcot when travelling between the two destinations.

One way of increasing the working between the two could be the creation of a transport body similar to Transport for London. This organisation could manage routes in the region and make it easier to put bids into Government.

Strategic director for communities at Oxfordshire County Council Bev Hindle said Swindon had shown signs of interest in joining a sub-national transport body and it could come into effect as early as 2019.

Last month the Chancellor Philip Hammond backed a National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) report to improve rail links and a new expressway between Oxford and Cambridge.

The NIC recognised Swindon to the west of the arc and also said the town could join Oxfordshire in a 'sub-regional planning area' responsible for bringing forward the national project.

Swindon Borough Council has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, urging him to extend the corridor and include the town to the west.

It put forward a number of proposals to improve links between Oxford and Swindon, including a new high quality commuter service between the two via Grove.

In his letter, council leader David Renard said: "We would like you to consider how extending this investment to include the rail corridor to Swindon would be a significant boost to a wide range of government policies.

"Swindon Council made a formal submission to the National Infrastructure Commission with three proposals for investment in improving rail links between Oxford and Swindon that would complement the government’s policies on house building, industry, and economic development."

In providing evidence to the NIC, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership said Swindon was the 'logical extension' of the corridor and could provide a gateway to the west.

Its report said: "At the Oxfordshire end of the corridor the logical extensions would be to Reading and Swindon.

"They are both areas which have enjoyed and are planning further expansion within the hi-tech, knowledge based economy."

It warned that new infrastructure would be needed, rail improvements between Swindon and Didcot and Didcot and Oxford as well as improvements to the A34.

It added: "Beyond these Swindon is a gateway to Bristol, South-West England and South Wales while Reading links to Basingstoke and the South Coast ports, which have also seen considerable growth which is likely to continue."