Members of Oxfordshire Growth Board have agreed to write to both Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to seek £160 million for rail improvements in the county.

A meeting of the board on November 24 agreed to write the letter to seek funding, which will include major improvements to Oxford station including additional track capacity which would allow further improvements elsewhere in the county.

Gordon Mitchell, chief executive of Oxford City Council, told the meeting: “This basic piece of infrastructure development is a basic building block for everything else.”

One of the significant schemes which may follow would be reopening the Cowley branch line which will then serve Oxford Science Park.

Network Rail has already submitted the plans to Government, which are known as phase two works in the Oxford section of the Oxfordshire Rail Corridor, and now that that is due to go before ministers, the growth board wants to highlight its importance.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “It’s absolutely vital that we progress this and we put as much pressure on the Department of Transport as possible to make sure that we can get this funding so we can deliver the scheme.”

In the letter to ministers, growth board chair Cllr Emily Smith states: “Many businesses across Oxfordshire are also strongly supportive of this scheme that marks a critical step in unlocking much needed opportunities, particularly at a time when economic recovery is paramount.

“If we are to grasp the unrivalled economic growth opportunity presented to us across Oxfordshire, then increasing capacity, futureproofing growth and enhancing connectivity is an essential and urgent requirement.”

A response is expected by early 2021.

Image by Alexey Komarov, CC BY 3.0,

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