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Oxford railway station revamp hits buffers as lengthy discussions go on
PLANS for Oxford’s new railway station have still not been agreed, with council bosses concerned it will be a “functional ticket office” instead of “a great gateway”.
Last year, the Office of Rail Regulation approved Network Rail’s scheme to redevelop the station by 2019.
But it is now 13 months since it appointed architectural consultants Aedas to draw up a masterplan for the station and surrounding area.
The company had previously indicated that this would be completed towards the end of last year.
However, county council leader Ian Hudspeth said he was pushing for a more ambitious plan than he had seen outlined so far.
Mr Hudspeth said: “Network Rail effectively are looking at a functional ticket office but we and the city council want something that’s in keeping with Oxfordshire.
“We want it to be seen as a great gateway into Oxford.
“The main things for us are whether you are going to be able to see into Frideswide Square when you arrive.
“Are there going to be good retail facilities? Will we have a fully- integrated bus terminus there?
- The existing station
“Network Rail obviously have a budget, but we are asking them to be a bit more flexible.”The station’s redevelopment will see the Botley Road bridge replaced and an extra platform build ahead of a Chiltern Railways link to London Marylebone from 2016.
City council leader Bob Price, below, said the number of bodies involved had made the process slower.
He said: “There are a lot of different demands on the site.
“There are a lot of hotel operators who are keen on having a space there, there is a desire on the part of the Said Business School to expand and there is the need from Network Rail to have a good car park.
“We are getting very close to some kind of public announcement but when you bring together the group of different interests in the scheme things can take a long time.”
Network Rail spokesman Anne-Marie Batson declined to comment on whether plans for the scheme were originally intended to be unveiled last year.
She said: “The parties involved in the redevelopment of Oxford's station and the surrounding area are still in the early stages of negotiation as to the actual design.
“In other parts of the country, notably Reading and Birmingham, Network Rail has formed close partnerships with train operators and local authorities when renovating stations.
“We strive at all times to create stations which are destinations in themselves as well as reflecting the best of their local environment, and this will be our goal in Oxford.”
First Great Western, which runs the station, said large projects generally take a long time to agree but that it supports Mr Hudspeth’s plans.
Spokesman James Davis said: “We are still in the early stages of this significant project, and things are progressing well.
“First Great Western, Network Rail and Oxfordshire County Council are working together with the city council in support of building a great gateway to Oxford.
“We are keen to provide a greater customer experience and capacity at the station.”
The Said Business School did not respond to a request to comment on its plans.
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