LONG delays on a project to electrify rail lines in Oxfordshire has led to an hourly direct service to London being scrapped.

Fears have been raised that people will ‘go back to their cars’ because they can no longer board London trains at Radley, having to change at Didcot Parkway instead.

Great Western Railway (GWR) is now running only one stopping service a day, leaving Radley at 5.56am, but pointed out that passengers can get to London quicker by changing.

Commuters claim the cancellation will have far reaching effects, including increasing congestion at Oxford and Didcot Parkway stations.

GWR spokesman, James Davis, said: “Following the decision to defer electrification from Didcot to Oxford we are not able to run our new electric trains on this part of the journey, and this will require customers to change trains.

“New and more modern electric trains, delivering 10 per cent more train seats at the busiest time of the morning to London Paddington, began operating at the beginning of January.

“Unfortunately, with the delay to the electrification of the line between Didcot and Oxford, these new electric trains are not able to run beyond Didcot, and customers at intermediate stations may need to change at Didcot Parkway.”

A new fleet of electric trains have been gradually phased in across the network since the start of the year.

Direct services between Oxford and London had to be modified so they could switch to run on a diesel engine when they reach Didcot, where electrification ends.

But the stopping service uses a solely electric model and is therefore unable to go beyond Didcot.

GWR is instead having to run its old diesel trains on the 10-mile stretch of railway between Didcot and Oxford.

Transport bosses insist the electrification of the remaining track will go ahead at some point but the project is currently on hold.

There was no mention of completing electrification in a recent five-year plan unveiled by Network Rail to improve the railway in the Thames Valley.

The Government will ultimately decide whether it goes ahead.

Oxfordshire county councillor for Kennington and Radley, Bob Johnson, said it was a ‘dismal story’ that had seen money spent on preparing the area for electrification but the works paused with no firm timetable for restarting them.

He added: “The diesels which are left are highly polluting and only able to operate because they have ‘grandfathers rights’ – they would not be allowed to operate if new today.”

Jenny Standen, chairman of Radley Parish Council, said she feared the changes would ultimately put people back in their cars.

She added: “It is of major concern to the village that the service has been reduced to almost nothing.

“But unfortunately it is not something we can do anything about.”