Railway line could hold answer to A40 problem

Campaigner Hugh Jaeger by the congested A40 at the Wolvercote roundabout, North Oxford

Campaigner Hugh Jaeger by the congested A40 at the Wolvercote roundabout, North Oxford

First published in News Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by

A NEW transport group has been set up to tackle the “chronically-congested” traffic on the A40.

The Witney Oxford Transport group has been formed because of persistent heavy traffic on the A40 west of Oxford.

It is made up of people and the Thames Valley branch of Railfuture, the Oxford branch of Bus Users UK and Sustainable Witney.

Hugh Jaeger, of the bus group, is helping to lead it.

He said: “There’s an acute problem with traffic on the A40 and something needs to be done.

“We want a feasibility study to look at what the best options are to tackle the problem.”

One option being looked at is reinstating the old railway line between Oxford and Witney, or introducing a tram system to run along the A40 corridor, or on the B4044 from Botley to Farmoor. He said a study would cost between £10,000 and £20,000.

Mr Jaeger said the old railway line had been built on at South Leigh, Eynsham and Cassington, although most of it was still in place.

He said bus company Stagecoach had welcomed the idea due to the “acute” problem with delays holding up S1 and S2 buses between Oxford and Witney.

Stagecoach Oxfordshire managing director Martin Sutton said: “We are keen to see what we can do to improve the experience of people travelling from Carterton, Witney and Eynsham along the A40.

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“The S1 and S2 buses suffer from severe traffic congestion and any bright idea that can improve that, I am keen to talk about. The key is to have some dedicated pathway and the real challenge is finding how that might be achieved.”

Andrew McCallum, secretary of Railfuture’s Thames Valley branch, said the plan to re-use the old railway line was “realistic”.

He said: “We need to take action because the A40 is chronically congested. The old railway track could be used in some form or another.”

The old railway line ran from Oxford to the edge of Yarnton, to Cassington and round the southern edge of Eynsham, before reaching Witney.

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said finances were too tight to investigate the issue.

He said: “The A40 is one of our main issues and we are currently bidding for funding to build a link road from the A40 to the Peartree roundabout to relieve pressure from the Wolvercote roundabout.

“We have limited funds and feasibility studies cost money. The best way to alleviate pressure on the A40 is to improve the junctions along it.”

Last month, the county council put forward plans to build a park-and-ride at Eynsham to reduce traffic on the A40.

The launch meeting of the Witney Oxford Transport Group will take place on Wednesday at the High Street Methodist Church in Witney at 7pm. All are welcome.

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