REOPENING the Cowley Branch Line will be ‘critical’ for increased accessibility at Oxford United’s proposed new stadium, a city MP has said.

At the end of February, the club announced that a full planning application had been submitted to Cherwell District Council, for the construction of a 16,000-capacity ground at The Triangle, south of Kidlington Roundabout.

The stadium would provide 14,400 seats for home fans, and 1,600 for away supporters.

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Part of the raft of planning documents submitted by the U’s include references to the Cowley Branch Line, which has been closed to passengers since 1963, and is currently only used by freight going to and from the Mini Plant in Cowley.

Also included in the planning documents was an alternative site assessment, which states that after June 30, 2026, United’s current lease at the Kassam Stadium will expire, and the club will have no legal right to occupy the stadium.

Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds has campaigned to reopen the Cowley Branch Line, and has previously backed the stadium proposals at The Triangle.

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She told this newspaper: “Sadly, Oxford United clearly has no choice but to move from the Kassam. I therefore support their efforts to create a new home for the club.

“The Cowley Branch Line will be critical for ensuring that the proposed new stadium at The Triangle is accessible to the many fans based in Littlemore, Cowley and Blackbird Leys.

“I have long pressed Government and the rail companies to support reopening the Cowley Branch Line to passengers. That campaigning seems now to be paying off, with a full business case now in production.

“Reopening the Cowley Branch Line would be transformative for transport in Oxford, providing a quick connection for residents in Littlemore, Cowley and Blackbird Leys to the city centre and beyond, as well as making it easier for those travelling to and from work at the business park, science park and BMW.”

Under current proposals, the railway line would run through the Oxford Science Park and Oxford Business Park, while connecting to Oxford Parkway and Oxford Station.


A match day interim travel plan submitted as part of the U’s planning application states: “The Cowley Branch Line is planned to open for passenger use by 2030.

“The two-mile branch leaves the main line south of Oxford, near Hinksey Yard, and is currently used for freight serving the BMW Mini Plant Oxford.

“Subject to the Cowley Branch reopening by 2030, it would be available to supporters in the south of the city to access Oxford Parkway and the proposed stadium. It should be noted that a large proportion of Oxford United supporters live in Littlemore and Cowley.”

A transport assessment, prepared by Ridge and Partners LLP, adds: “The planned reopening of the Cowley Branch Line will connect Littlemore and Cowley in the south of city to Oxford Station.

“A full business case is currently in development, which if approved could see the line reopen to passenger services in December 2026, however this would rely on securing project funding.

“Once reopened, this line would serve a core supporter base in the south of the city at Littlemore and Cowley with one direct train service to Oxford Parkway.”