The Anonymous Widower

Network Rail’s Problems In Oxford

Oxford is going to be a big rail hub with  over the next few years the following projects being completed or at least underway.

1. Chiltern Railways from Oxford Parkway to Oxford station. Services to Oxford Parkway station will start on October 26th 2015, with services to Oxford city centre starting in spring 2016. I’ll believe the last part of that, when a Chiltern Railways train takes me to Oxford. When I visited in March 2015, little seemed to be happening at Oxford station in preparation for the arrival of this service.

2. Oxford station to be substantially upgraded with more platforms and possibly two island platforms for through trains. Again in March 2015, little seemed to be happening.

3. Chiltern Railways from Oxford station to the Science Park on the Cowley branch.

4. Electrification between Didcot and Oxford.

5. The creation of the East-West Rail Link

But according to the August 2015 of Modern Railways, they are having severe problems in the area North of the station, which I explored in a walk in March 2015. This is said.

On top of that, there is a hint of exasperation with the local authorities about the glacial pace of the planning process:  it took two and a half years to get approval for a pedestrian crossing to replace a footbridge for Chiltern’s mew line to the city centre, because allotment holders used to wheeling barrows of compost across the line were complaining about the new up-and-down route they would have to take over the bridge. New railway staff accomodation in Oxford is mired in similar planning mud.

Cambridge have upgraded their railways in recent years, and although they have had delays on the new Cambridge North station, there doesn’t seem to have been the same planning mud.

The question has to be asked if the good burghers of Oxford would prefer that money was spent on improving transport infrastructure in more welcoming places. The writer obviously feels strongly as he goes on to say this.

While not wishing to stand in the way of democracy , Network Rail is pointing out that there is a window of opportunity for modernising the route to Oxford that could be lost unless local authorities embrace it wholeheatedly. With NR’s spending plans under pressure, there is a danger that Oxford will be put in the “too difficult” pigeonhole and the caravan will move on. Then it would really be back to the 1970s, with changing at Didcot becoming the best option to reach Paddington at some times of day.

I had a friend who lived in Oxford and he used to say that the Council liked to keep cars out of the City. Perhaps, it is more fundamental than that, and the Council would prefer to keep everybody out of the city, so they can continue to lead their cloistered lives, untroubled by the Twentieth Century, let alone the twenty-first.

Do the same people, who blame Network Rail for their well-documented problems, like these at Oxford and those at Manchester, fully support the improvements in the first place or do they really want money to be spent on their own pet projects?

We certainly need a planning system that allows people to air their views and protest, but also one that takes more account of the good of the majority after all contra-arguments have been rejected.

July 27, 2015 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , ,


  1. […] To say that Oxford station has had planning problems in the last few years would be a massive understatement. I talked about them in Network Rail’s Problems In Oxford. […]

    Pingback by First Great Western’s Pragmatic Large And Little Solution To The Problems Of Great Western Electrification « The Anonymous Widower | August 29, 2015 | Reply

  2. […] I wrote about this opposition in Network Rail’s Problem In Oxford. […]

    Pingback by What Will Oxford Think Of This « The Anonymous Widower | March 9, 2016 | Reply

  3. […] Network Rail must rue the day they agreed to extend the Chiltern Line to Oxford, as the locals have done everything they can to tell Network Rail, that they don’t want the new railway. I wrote about it in July 2015, in Network Rail’s Problems In Oxford. […]

    Pingback by Oxford Now Wants Silent Track « The Anonymous Widower | October 13, 2016 | Reply

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