The future of Oxford station
Speaker: Steve Hayes (Oxfordshire Senior Transport Planner)
The changes under consideration for Oxford’s station are part of the County’s Access to Oxford programme to overcome congestion on the main access roads, increase the number of destinations reached by rail and enhance the appearance and usability of the station and its surrounds. These plans have to be coordinated with the West End redevelopment scheme and with TransformOxford. Network Rail’s recent draft plan for the station has yet to be fully explored by the County Access team, so many issues remain undetermined. It is recognised that a new station – to cater for more trains, more passengers, and for better access and enhanced interchange facilities, is long overdue.
The lively discussion that followed the presentation focused on the following issues:
1) The need for more effective interchange facilities – which the present station plans will be unable to provide (in view of the limitation imposed by NetWork Rail’s ownership of the station forecourt). Compared with many European cites, Oxford’s interchange facilities are pathetic.
2) The greater potential of a new station in Oxpens to provide for Oxford ‘s long-term needs. Although in the present economic climate the much greater cost of the latter renders it less likely to gain backing than the more modest proposals currently on offer, in the longer term the need to reduce CO2 emissions may make more radical solutions imperative.
3) At present, access to the station by pedestrians and cyclists, both from the east via Hythe Bridge and from the west under Botley Road bridge, is so unpleasant and dangerous that people may be deterred from travelling by train.
4) The advantages of a light rail/tram system to reduce bus congestion and pollution in the city centre.