Oxford, Witney and Carterton rail link feasibility study is published in full

A feasibility study stating the case for a railway route connecting Carterton, Witney, and Eynsham to Oxford has been published in full.

The preliminary strategic outline case for the Carterton-Witney-Oxford Rail Corridor (CWORC) was commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council, following proposals from the Witney Oxford Transport Group.

The aim was to establish if there is a case for building the proposed railway line, what the benefits could be and to give an indication of the likely investment required.

Details were released earlier this year, along with the summary reports. The full reports, which have now been updated are available to read (see Downloads right).

Councillor Judy Roberts, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Development Strategy, said: “We committed to undertake a study to explore the potential for a new rail link to serve West Oxfordshire, which we have done. The work so far shows that this transformational project would be possible and could provide potentially significant transport and other benefits in the longer-term, in line with our policies to improve public transport.

“However, it would also come at a very significant cost, as well as having wider planning considerations, which we would need to discuss with West Oxfordshire District Council and other partners.”

The study has shown that building a rail link would be feasible and could be justified in transport strategy terms but identifies planning and environmental issues.

It also warns about the high financial cost and difficulty involved in undertaking such a project. However, if it went ahead, it is predicted to be profitable.

Other key findings include:

  • Predicted journey times of 23 minutes from Carterton to Oxford, 16 minutes from Witney and 11 minutes from Eynsham. This represents journey time savings of more than 70 per cent.
  • Considerations of other alternate transport modes, with the conclusion that rail is best placed to deliver the necessary journey time savings and additional capacity.
  • The first phase of the railway could be delivered by 2033 at the earliest.

However, construction costs of building the rail line alone are estimated by the report at between £700 - £900 million, with the scheme potentially being delivered in phases – although no route has been decided at this stage.

It would, therefore, be a long-term project and would also depend on other rail improvements being funded and completed, including the planned upgrade to the North Cotswold Line, which the county council remains committed to.

Funding for a rail project of this significance would mainly need to come from central government.

Councillor Andy Graham, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We welcome the feasibility study and partnership opportunities to bring an ambitious project to fruition with the county council and other stakeholders.

“There is much work to be done and we will need to create the framework to ensure it is fully costed as an investment that will make a difference to the lives of our residents and address current and future employment. It is not what we do for ourselves today but what we leave for future generations.”

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