Oxford’s Botley Road will not now reopen in October as planned after a further delay was announced by Network Rail.

It means the proposed traffic filters, which are to be implemented once the road reopens, are delayed further.

The closure to allow the multimillion pound upgrading of Oxford Station began in April 2023. The road was due to reopen between October 2023 and March 2024 but Network Rail announced last September it would be delayed until October 2024.

Now the railways infrastructure provider has announced it cannot reopen in October because the replacement of the railway bridge cannot go ahead on schedule, due to what is describes as ‘the complex layout of utility pipes and cables under the road’.

Anna Holbrook, industry programme director for Network Rail, said: “Although our work is progressing well on most aspects of this major programme, including the construction of the new platform on the western side of the station, the bridge replacement has unfortunately had to be postponed as the work to divert the complex layout of utility pipes and cables under the road, including the sewer system, will not be ready in time.

“We have informed the councils that Botley Road will not now be able to be reopened in October. We know how important Botley Road is to Oxford and apologise to local residents and businesses for the ongoing inconvenience. We are working out the best way forward and will continue to engage with the local community as our plans develop.”

No new date has been given for the completion, something Oxford City Council leader Cllr Susan Brown was unimpressed by.

She said: “Network Rail says its contractor Kier and the 11 different utility providers involved continue to make progress on diverting the large number of pipes and cables.

“These delays to the scheme are hugely frustrating for all in the city living with the disruption.  Oxford residents and businesses need absolute clarity about when the Botley Road will open and what the implications for county’s traffic filters plans are.

“Network Rail and Oxfordshire County Council must find a positive resolution and provide that clarity as a matter of urgency.”

A statement from Oxfordshire County Council states: “Oxfordshire County Council is extremely frustrated that Network Rail is postponing the replacement of Botley railway bridge at the end of this month and is unable to reopen Botley Road in October as a result. The council is in discussion with Network Rail to understand the implications of this.

“Residents and businesses have shown incredible patience with more than a year of disruption to their lives because of this project, which has already had its timetable altered twice before and seen its closure dates extended. We have expressed our deep dissatisfaction to Network Rail and to the Department for Transport about this.

“The launch of the council’s traffic filters trial planned to start in November is now in question, with various options being considered as a result. The trial aims to tackle Oxford’s chronic congestion problems and dramatically improve bus journey times. We are calling on and working with Network Rail to find an acceptable solution to this situation quickly.

“The council remains incredibly supportive of improvements to the rail station for Oxford with improved capacity for passengers and freight, which is vital for the development of projects such as East West Rail.

“In the meantime, we will continue to do all we can to work with partners to minimise the impact on the rest of the road network.”

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