The Department for Transport has confirmed that it has awarded nearly £80 million to Network Rail to support the redevelopment of Oxford station and railway. Quadrant Transport investigates how this will help to provide a better station, more services for passengers and improved journey times.
Enabling Network Rail to significantly transform Oxford station, the railway in Oxfordshire and nearby road networks, the £78.6 million funding follows the granting of a Transport Works Act Order (TWAO).
In addition to this, it is said by Network Rail that the number of passengers that the station can serve will be boosted, new services including freight will be accommodated and the accessibility to the station will be improved.
Making Rail Stations More Accessible For The Travelling Public Is Vital
There are many key changes that will be taking place to redevelop the station and railway. One of these is the introduction of a new track and platform to be added alongside the existing platform 4. This will create an island platform on the west side of the station.
A new western station entrance will be built next to Botley Road and will link up the new platform via a subway, stairs, and lift. The new entrance will make the station more accessible to people that live west of the station, reducing walking time.
Another key change will see improvements to the nearby road network and the replacement of Botley Road bridge, including lowering the road to enable standard double-decker buses to pass underneath for the first time. It will also include a four-metre-wide cycle/footpath on each side to encourage sustainable transport and improve safety.
Three new crossovers will allow trains to switch tracks at Oxford North Junction and this will take place over four weekends in September and October. Network Rail has confirmed that there will be no services in or out of Oxford on 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25 September, as well as 1 and 2 October.
Improvements May Cause Disruption To Both Passengers And Local Residents
Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route and strategic operations director, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this significant amount of funding from the Department for Transport, which will enable us to make positive, substantial improvements to Oxford station and the railway for the benefit of our passengers and freight customers.
“Oxford station has been near capacity and in need of a transformation for some time, which this funding will now make a reality. A new entrance, new additional track and platform, and improved accessibility will start to transform this station so that is fit for the 21st Century and significantly enhance capacity for increases in passenger numbers and future services such as East West Rail.
“We recognise there may be some disruption to both passengers and nearby residents while we make these upgrades who we’d like to thank in advance for their patience and understanding.”
We will ensure we continue to communicate any changes to services and notify residents of any forthcoming work that may impact them.
Over the coming months, preparation work, including the diversion of utilities, needs to be done on Botley Road by contractor Kier.
Work to replace the bridge is scheduled to take place between 29 July and 6 August 2023, during this time Botley Road will be closed to through traffic and there will be no train services in or out of the station.
An Additional 12 Freight Trains Per Day Will Be Accommodated
Discussions about the requirement for road closures during the upcoming preparation work are currently ongoing with Oxfordshire County Council, with further information set to be announced in the coming weeks.
Together with the work to improve the way trains flow into the station, the closure of two-level crossings, is said by Network Rail to increase the capacity along the Oxford corridor to accommodate an additional 12 freight trains per day along this part of the country’s strategic freight network.
Network Rail has expressed that this will help to ensure that fuel reaches the petrol pumps, food makes it onto supermarket shelves and that household waste is taken to recycling depots.
Sustainable Transport Will Contribute To UK Reaching Net Zero
Councillor Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council, said: “I’m delighted that the government is supporting this vital redevelopment, which will help sustainable travel to our city.
“We know that cities are the most sustainable locations for jobs because of the ability to provide housing close by but also public transport hubs. There will be a significant number of new jobs in the West End and wider City Centre over the next few years and we need more passenger services, better freight, and a rail service that can really support businesses, residents and visitors in the city.”
Rail provides fast, sustainable transport and plays an important part in our ambitions to improve air quality and reduce congestion.
The latest funding announcement follows £69 million of investment from the UK Government last May to support the development of the design and enabling work. The Oxford Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) is also contributing an additional £10.5 million to the project.