BICESTER has criticised solutions for the town's London Road level crossing problem put forward by East West Rail Company.

A consultation has started, asking locals what they think about plans for East West Rail (EWR) - a rail link between Oxford and Cambridge.

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EWR plans to increase train services in Bicester, meaning the frequency of trains passing through the level crossing at London Road would rise and the crossing could be closed for up to 50 minutes in every hour.

Six options have therefore been put forward to keep traffic flowing, including building an underpass, an overbridge or closing the road altogether to vehicles, but people are not convinced they would work.

Local councillors say there has been a lack of 'joined up thinking' about developments that have been built, such as Aldi and housing, which are now impacting on what can be planned.

Independent district and town councillor Nick Cotter said: "I have lived in Bicester for 20 years now, and it is a very real concern that there has been a total lack of joined up thinking and that developments have been allowed to go ahead without any thought to what is next coming down the track - literally."

Bicester Advertiser: Councillor Nick Cotter (right) with Lib Dem candidates Dr Sam Decombel and Calum Miller at level crossing.

Closing London Road to vehicles and forcing all traffic around the town via the A41 would cut the town in half and make it more difficult to access the town centre from the south.

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Independent councillor John Broad says he was shown a plan in 2014 that he thinks would solve the problem.

It would see a bridge built between Bicester Bodyshop and Bicester Village Station that rises over the car park. Once over the railway it would descend to a point over Station Approach where an elevated T-junction would allow traffic to turn either towards the town or the station.

He said: "You can see why it works because you just use a bit of the station car park. There's no destroying of any houses or making people go the long way round. As far as I’m concerned, none of GWR's options produces the right answer."

Bicester Advertiser: Cllr John Broad showing where he thinks a bridge could be built. Pic: Ed Nix

EWR says suggestions that have been raised so far will 'feed into the consultation and into further option development work' for the crossing.

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Oxfordshire County Council says it is considering whether there are other alternatives before responding to the consultation.

Bicester Bike User's Group feels pedestrians and cyclists would be impacted the most because unlike vehicles, they cannot go round if the road was to close. Its preferred pedestrian solution is an underpass.

Chair George Bennett said: "The obvious pedestrian solution is an underpass. They only need to be 2.4m high, so a pedestrian or cyclist can travel in a straight line down a gentle slope on one side and up the other side.

"A pedestrian underpass can be designed to be airy and light, not like something from 1960s Birmingham, and could fit within the limits of the existing buildings, avoiding losing more of Bicester’s valuable heritage."

Resident Matthew Fincham says it would be 'sensible' to reduce unnecessary traffic along the route, rather than trying to find 'complex engineering solutions'.

He added: "While I understand the concerns those who may have to choose between a short delay or find a new route for their drive to the remaining shops in the town, I would ask them to remember that this will all come down to money and willingness to compromise and find a suitable solution, however it seems there is very little of either."

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