PLANS for the multi-million pound redevelopment of Oxford’s railway station are set to be unveiled early this year.
This will bring to an end months of discussion over the future of the site off Frideswide Square which some hope will see it become an integrated “transport hub”.
Since early last year, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Network Rail have been working together to draw up a masterplan for the station and the surrounding area.
The new station will include extra platforms to accommodate extra services using the planned new links to London Marylebone and Milton Keynes via Bicester, in conjunction with the electrification and resignalling of the Oxford to London route via Didcot.
These projects are due to be operating by 2017.
A number of potential uses are being considered as part of the £70m redevelopment – including a new bus station – but there are plenty of different ideas about what should actually become reality.
Work starting on the 1970s redevelopment
In April First Great Western said it would be supportive of anything which came out of the masterplan which made sure there were integrated transport links, while Network Rail appeared cooler on the issue.
Network Rail spokesman Dayle Sellars said the aspiration to create a “transport hub” would be wrapped up in the masterplan due to released soon.
County councillor Rodney Rose, deputy leader of transport authority Oxfordshire County Council, said: “My priority for the site is that people can get on and off trains, that they have somewhere to park their cars and bicycles and somewhere to catch the bus. Beyond that I am not so worried.
“We do need a proper hotel there but we need to be careful that we don’t build the site up so much that you cannot get bus, taxi or car infrastructure in there.”
Figures from the Office for Rail Regulation show that 6,227,018 used the station in 2011-2012 compared with 3,064,362 in 1997-1998 – a rise of 103 per cent.
Proposals to create an integrated transport hub in Oxford date back to the late 1940s, when the Great Western and London Midland & Scottish railways proposed a rebuilt station with a bus station alongside on land now occupied by Oxford University’s Said Business School, which was then the site of the LMS’s Rewley Road station.
More recently Oxford Civic Society has suggested moving the railway station south to Oxpens, near to where coaches already park.
But this has since been ruled out by Network Rail, which said the site was unsuitable for use as a station.
The area is set to be redeveloped for housing and offices instead.
Oxford Civic Society vice president Tony Joyce said: “Journeys consist of more than one part and there is the rail part but also what you do after you have arrived at the station and for that you need adequate integration between different modes of transport.
“The most obvious one is buses and this requires that there is a really full and proper bus hub at the station.
“Our anxiety has been that there is not really room to do this properly at the existing site.”
- Oxfordshire’s other rail projects in the pipeline are: s Network Rail is spending £1bn electrifying the Great Western main line from London to Bristol, and this will include Oxford and Didcot. It is anticipated that this will be completed by December 2016 and will make trains faster and quieter.
- Funding for the East West rail link has been approved and the new line between Reading and Bedford, via Oxford and High Wycombe, is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. This will allow freight to travel via Oxford from Southampton up towards Manchester and talks are already taking place about extending it to Cambridge.
Chiltern Railways is already working on creating a new link between Oxford and London Marylebone, which will include a new station at Water Eaton called Oxford Parkway.