Oxford rail station and railway upgrade work set to begin

Network Rail have officially begun a £161 million Oxford station and railway upgrade which aims to expand the railway to allow more rail services for passengers and freight.

Network Rail Oxford

Credit: Network Rail

Network Rail are to begin a £161 million Oxford station and railway upgrade. The Oxford rail station and railway area upgrade programme officially starts on 11 April. As part of the upgrade, Botley Road will be temporarily closed 11 April until the end of October to enable the station and track improvements.

The rail station and railway upgrades, part of the Oxfordshire Connect programme, involves building a bigger and better Oxford station, expanding the railway to allow more rail services for passengers and freight and reduce journey times in the future. The road network near the station will also be improved to create safer junctions with Botley Road, encourage sustainable transport by enhancing bus travel as well as providing more space for cyclists and pedestrians through the addition of a four-metre cycle/footway on each side of the main road.

This will require the replacement of the current bridge at Botley Road by the station so that an additional railway line can be added into the station and buses, cyclists and pedestrians can more easily access the city centre. Before the bridge is physically replaced in 2023, 11 different utility providers must divert their infrastructure that currently runs underneath the existing bridge and Network Rail must undertake other preliminary works. The railway station will be open throughout the works.

Network Rail is also working with Oxfordshire County Council’s Inclusive Transport and Movement Focus Group and OxTalk to create an audio guide to help people make the journey independently between Osney Island and the train station and Frideswide Square.

When the works are complete by the end of 2024, Oxford station will boast a new western entrance that will be built next to Botley Road and will link up to the new and existing platforms via a subway. The new entrance will make the station more accessible to people living to the west of the station, reducing the current walking time. Dedicated cycle parking will also be available.

Artist's impression of new Oxford station western entrance

Artist’s impression of new Oxford station western entrance – Credit: Network Rail

As part of the plans, the road network will also be improved near to the station as the railway bridge above Botley Road will be replaced and the road lowered to enable standard double-decker buses to pass underneath for the first time. A four-metre wide cycle/footpath will also be installed on each side to encourage sustainable transport and improve safety.

Plans for the work

The original plan was for a 12-month closure starting in January 2023, but this was reviewed in light of the complexities involved in diverting the utilities and feedback from communities. The new plan gives some respite by splitting the road closures while still delivering the railway improvements which are vital for Oxfordshire, on schedule for the end of 2024. The plan also means that most of the work will be completed during spring/summer months meaning less of an impact on school and university terms.

“Undertaking this work to enable the replacement of the bridge at Botley Road near the station in Oxford is a critical part of the works required to improve the station for the city,” Claire Mahoney, Network Rail Programme Director for Oxfordshire Connect, said. “There was never going to be an easy way to do this work, it’s extremely complex and needs to be carefully coordinated with multiple utility companies as well as Thames Water and the Environment Agency who are undertaking other works close by. We’ve split the work into two parts this year and next year, so that we reduce the impact on the city’s residents.”

“Improving Oxford Station will be incredibly important for the city and county’s future transport links,” Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said. “It will improve capacity for passengers and freight and is vital for the development of projects such as East West Rail and the Cowley Branch Line. However, we realise that a project of this scale will inevitably mean disruption – in this case the closure of Botley Road for two significant periods. While this cannot be avoided, we will do all we can to minimise the impact on the rest of the road network.”


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