Garden cities have certainly become something of a passion for the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg. And once again, he made it clear that Oxfordshire figures large in his Garden City dream, only this time it would be part of a “Garden City Line” no less.

Mr Clegg told his party conference that he would insist in any future coalition negotiations that 10 new garden cities should be built, with five along a new express railway line linking Oxford and Cambridge.

Not that very long ago he had poured cold water on suggestions that there were secret plots to build a new garden city in Oxfordshire’s countryside, while not disguising his hope of recapturing the spirit that saw the building of Milton Keynes and Welwyn Garden City.

He told this paper: “It is not my job to point a long finger and say where a garden city should go.

“That has to be generated by local demand and local proposals backed by the private sector.

“The Government needs to produce a prospectus setting out criteria, then invite local areas to come forward.”

Well, we understand that Cherwell District Council is keen to get in on the act and is working on a bid for Bicester to win garden city status.

But in the very week the Deputy Prime Minister was setting such store on the opportunities being opened up by the long-awaited express railway line linking Oxford and Cambridge, it emerged that very real problems are still to be resolved over the first phase of works on the western section of the East-West Rail, north of Oxford.

Residents remain unsatisfied with assurances from Network Rail and Chiltern Railways about the impact of noise and vibration.

It is two years since planning permission was deemed to have been granted for the upgrade of the Oxford-Biceter line.

But, if anything, concerns have grown, with the line to be busier than had been imagined — being now part of both the new Oxford to London route and now the East-West line.

An independent study commissioned by Oxford City Council suggests vibration levels may be higher than a previous report had suggested.

Best of all for residents both Oxford City Council and Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood are supporting calls for a speed limit on the line for goods trains between Oxford and the new station at Water Eaton.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price urged the introduction of a speed limit in a carefully argued letter sent to Network Rail.

With residents and the council still awaiting a response, The Oxford Times discovered that the letter had still not been seen by anyone at the company. Apparently it had been misplaced, having been addressed to a senior programme manager who had left the company.

It suggests a level of organisation and interest in local concerns that will not fill anyone with confidence about the progress of the East-West line, let alone a Garden City line based on Mr Clegg still holding a post-election position of power.