Oxford, County town and internationally renowned centre of learning, draws crowds from a variety of sources. Therefore good links to and from satellite towns and regions radially is essential. The laissez-faire tirade of development unleashed on local areas with a whittling down of local government and the planning system, means it is even more essential now to focus minds on route protection policies for strategic links required for the future.
Key aspects the strategic radial rail links offer:
- Commuting to and from London and Oxford as well as contra commuting to provincial satellite towns
- Tourism and visitors, enabling access by rail more helps reduce the associated traffic and land-use parking demand.
- Spreading footfall and spend, so every main area gets more of a share keeping shops and businesses open and sustaining employment.
- Offering the potential capacity for more freight by rail, de-cluttering hazards off from roads informing safer operations, less emissions and other pollution including noise and vibrations, damage to old buildings, costs of wear and tear on bridges, road surfaces and other structures.
- By putting more on the railways and having a sufficiently robust network to enable that more comprehensively, you save land in road widening schemes and thus development can be more sustainable, land saved, countryside included. It is a matter of balance and having infrastructure to cope with development and its wider impacts near and far.
- If we can justify an upgraded road into the Cotswolds (A40) surely a parallel rail link would deliver footfall and spend minus the car, minus the parking land use demand and minus the eyesore, emissions and verge rutting intrusion which bedevils communities and residential areas?
This list is not exhaustive but outlines some principles. On new routes getting them supported from parish to district council and county council level is important, as is policies around protecting old routes and adequate lands for reinterpretation where blockages are severe requiring deviations/railway bypassing in some cases. Once protected and supported, commissioning studies which start at £30,000 each upwards is required to make the business case, environmental impact, look at engineering and general feasibility and value for outlay cost for returns on investment.
What you can do: If you agree with any or all of what we are expressing here you can:
- Let us know which suggestions listed here you particularly welcome or provide us with any other feedback, please see Contact Us page
- Join ERTA – every member helps make us a louder shout for more of what we may wish for. Please see Membership page for more information.
- Offer time and talent – if you want to get involved we have volunteer opportunities and whilst we welcome reliability and enthusiasm, we welcome any special focuses or skills. Please see Get Involved (Volunteering) page for more information. We would welcome a volunteer to become our own Oxford Area Rep, convene forums, gather people together, recruit new members, advocate the above agenda and grow a team to progress it further with our guidance and liaison. Volunteers we welcome are people who join, who prove reliable, honest and take a measured approach to incrementally getting things done in a competent manner. Please contact Richard Pill email@example.com for expressions of interest.