A STUDY of proposals to reinstate a Rail link between Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon has found there is a good case for the idea.
Consultants Arup carried out a £70,000 four-month study into the prospects for the reopening of a rail connection from the Cotswold Line, which connects Oxford and Worcester, to the Warwickshire tourist hotspot.
Their report says that reinstatement of the railway from Stratford to nearby Long Marston is feasible, along with improvements to the existing freight-only branch line from Long Marston to Honeybourne, on the Cotswold Line.
And the report adds that forecasts of potential passenger numbers on trains between Stratford and Oxford and Stratford and Worcester could see services turning an operating profit soon after the line is restored.
Trains could also be extended beyond Oxford to London, or from Stratford to Leamington Spa.
The consultants recommend hourly trains on each route, which, combined with an hourly service on the Cotswold Line, would mean trains at least half-hourly throughout the day at West Oxfordshire stations including Hanborough, Charlbury and Kingham.
A report to the cabinet of Stratford-on-Avon District Council, which co-ordinated the study, says that it is now up to the rail industry, local enterprise partnerships and the Department for Transport to take the scheme forward.
Councillors are being asked at a meeting on Monday to consider the study’s findings when drawing up a core planning strategy and to safeguard the former rail route from development that could hamper its reopening.
The study said the cost of work to reinstate the missing section of the line, improve the Long Marston branch line and rebuild a triangular junction at Honeybourne to allow trains to run direct to and from Oxford, would be £76m, although an allowance for extra costs, based on advice from Network Rail, could push this figure up to £96.9m.
John Ellis, chairman of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group, which represents passengers, was a member of the steering group set up by the council to oversee the study.
He said: “I think we have got a very good base from the study, which I am pleased with. We will continue to keep going, referencing the study and looking for further support for the implementation of the scheme.”
The connection at Honeybourne allowing direct running between Oxford and Stratford was closed in 1965, while the Long Marston-Stratford section was shut in 1976.
- The study report is online at http://democracy.stratford.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=18911