A feasibility study on the establishment of a railway line between Carterton and Oxford in Oxfordshire, England has estimated the cost of building the line to be between £700m – £900m but said the project was possible.
The full report has provided a complete assessment of the idea, including possible next steps such as a public consultation on route options and carrying out a land, environment and planning assessment.
Cllr Andy Graham, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, welcomed the study and its findings, saying: “There is much work to be done and we will need to create the framework to ensure it is fully costed as an investment that will make a difference to the lives of our residents and address current and future employment.
“It is not what we do for ourselves today but what we leave for future generations.”
According to the study, the Carterton-Witney-Oxford line, which was proposed by the Witney Oxford Transport Group, would be best opened in phases that could be delivered between 2033 and 2036.
The new line would complement the existing connections provided by the A40 motorway and the current works to expand the capacity of the road with new bus lanes while also providing journey time savings of more than 70% for potential passengers.
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Four stations could be built on the line: Carterton West, Carterton North, Witney, and Eynsham, which would then be connected to existing railway lines that would connect the towns to Oxford.
However, despite the projected high costs and wide scope of the project, the study said it expected the line to be profitable with two-car length trains running every half hour during peak services.
Cllr Judy Roberts, the council’s cabinet member for infrastructure and development strategy, said: “The work so far shows that this transformational project would be possible and could provide potentially significant transport and other benefits in the longer-term, in line with our policies to improve public transport.
“However, it would also come at a very significant cost, as well as having wider planning considerations, which we would need to discuss with West Oxfordshire District Council and other partners.”
Though not connected to the UK’s national government, the study comes as the country’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he will focus on better transport connections after the highly controversial scrapping of the HS2 high-speed project’s second leg between Birmingham and Manchester.