Oxford to Witney railway: Call to protect 'future' route
Passenger trains ran between Oxford and Witney until 1962 (Ben Brookshank)
A group campaigning to re-establish an Oxfordshire railway has called for a council to protect a possible route from development.
Witney Oxford Transport wants a line to be built between Oxford and Carterton.
At a meeting, the group's chairman Charlie Maynard urged Oxfordshire County Council to protect land for a possible route in the future as part of the authority's plans to widen the A40.
The council will formally reply to his petition at a later date. Mr Maynard told councillors that protecting land by the A40 would avoid a railway project being "blocked for this generation and generations to come".
The group has made a bid to the government's Restoring Your Railway Fund to carry out a feasibility study to explore plans to build a new line between Oxford, Witney and Carterton.
If successful, the group will conduct a feasibility study into the project (Network Rail)
Passenger services between Witney and Oxford used to operate on the Fairford Branch Line, which closed in 1962. Draft proposals by the group include a 14.2 mile (22.9km) rail line from a junction on the existing Cotswold Line at Yarnton to Carterton, with much of the line running adjacent to the A40.
Mr Maynard said Eynsham's future park and ride, which was given planning permission on 8 March, was a "feasible location" for a future rail station. But, he said, the council's plans to widen the A40 with a dual carriageway between Witney and the park and ride did not protect a rail route and "without protection it is almost certain that the A40 dualling project will block a future rail route to Witney and Carterton".
The council has started work on a £102m scheme to build bus and cycle lanes on the A40, so it can "unlock" 5,050 homes to be built in West Oxfordshire.