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Extension link from Oxford Station to the Cowley Branch Line

A MULTI-MILLION Pound investment in the expansion of Oxford Rail Station could lead to the reopening of the Cowley Branch Line.

Last week the Department for Transport announced that a £161million financial package would be injected into the station, to make various improvements.

Among the improvements to be completed by 2024 are the creation of a new track, a new platform and a new entrance on the west side of the station.

READ: Oxford station to get £161m for new track and platform

OxLEP, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, contributed £10 million of the total £161 million.

Nigel Tipple, Managing Director of OxLEP, said: “The additional platform creates new opportunities and the ability to extend the Cowley Branch Line.

“By improving the platform and the capacity, it brings new development proposals for the Cowley Branch Line.

“For a city with higher unemployment, especially in East Oxford, this creates opportunities for our businesses and our communities.

“This investment allows us to build momentum – it’s another piece of the puzzle we need.”

Nigel Tipple, CEO of OxLEP. Photo: Ed Nix

Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, added: “We’ve been campaigning for the Cowley Branch Line for years and years, and for us it’s a no-brainer.

“It’s a very important place to have a passenger line.

“The Cowley Branch Line works may be allowed to become a reality with this expansion.”

On general expansion plans, the head of the council added, “We want our station to be a place people can be proud of.

“It’s really important – we have a lot of jobs coming to the city in the years to come.”

Oxford Mail: Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council.  Photo: Ed NixSusan Brown, President of Oxford City Council. Photo: Ed Nix

READ MORE: How will the expansion of Oxford station boost the city and the wider region?

The Cowley Branch Line is currently only used by freight trains to and from the BMW mini-factory and has been closed to passengers since 1963.

Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s director of strategic and western route operations, described the investment in Oxford as the “biggest project for some time”.

He said: “Anything we can do to increase the number of people using the rail is a good thing – we are very keen on improving connectivity and the Botley Road rail bridge.

“The benefits of this investment are multiple.

“It has been worked on and planned for Oxford since 2006, and is absolutely an order of magnitude, the biggest project here for some time.”

Tom Pierpoint, Acting Director of Business Development at Great Western Railway, said: “We are doing important things to provide more flexibility, and the new west side entrance will provide additional accessibility.

“It’s a program that helps more people get out of their cars and get people traveling by train again after Covid.”

Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for motorway management, added: ‘This is very welcome news, this is part of a series of changes to come to our town.

“The situation under the Botley Road rail bridge has not been great, but it is a great opportunity to make significant improvements.”

This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

Contact him by email: [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice