As part of a £161million station and railway upgrade, Botley Road will be temporarily closed near Oxford station from 11 April until the end of October to enable station and track improvements and highways redevelopment.
Network Rail, Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are encouraging motorists and Oxford residents to plan ahead as the £161m Oxford rail station and railway area upgrade programme gets underway in earnest on 11 April.
The rail station and railway upgrades, part of the Oxfordshire Connect programme, involves building a bigger and better Oxford station, expanding the railway to allow more rail services for passengers and freight and reduce journey times in the future. The road network near the station will also be improved to create safer junctions with Botley Road, encourage sustainable transport by enhancing bus travel as well as providing more space for cyclists and pedestrians through the addition of a four-metre cycle/footway on each side of the main road.
OxLEP previously secured and committed additional investment of £10m towards the project.
This will require the replacement of the current bridge at Botley Road by the station so that an additional railway line can be added into the station and buses, cyclists and pedestrians can more easily access the city centre. Before the bridge is physically replaced next year, 11 different utility providers must divert their infrastructure that currently runs underneath the existing bridge and Network Rail must undertake other preliminary works.
Between 11 April and the end of October:
- Motorists that usually use Botley Road to get into the city are advised to use the one of the city’s Park & Ride sites (Seacourt is closest as it is located on Botley Road), to take an alternative route into the city or may wish to consider catching the train instead from a local station with parking
- Buses will turn around just before the rail bridge and use the existing bus stops on Osney Island
- Pedestrians and cyclists will have access into the city throughout the work
- Local residents’ access to their homes will remain at all times, with some diversions in place
- The railway station will be open throughout the works with rail services operating as normal, unless otherwise advertised.
In the autumn this section of Botley Road near the station will reopen until it closes again in the spring of 2024 for the bridge to be demolished, replaced and highways improvements made.
When the works are complete by the end of 2024, Oxford station will boast a new western entrance that will be built next to Botley Road and will link up to the new and existing platforms via a subway. The new entrance will make the station more accessible to people living to the west of the station, reducing the current walking time. Dedicated cycle parking will also be available.
As part of the plans the road network will also be improved near to the station as the railway bridge above Botley Road will be replaced and the road lowered to enable standard double-decker buses to pass underneath for the first time. A four-metre wide cycle/footpath will also be installed on each side to encourage sustainable transport and improve safety.
Network Rail, Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have jointly agreed the revised programme of works.
The original plan was for a 12-month closure starting in January 2023, but this was reviewed in light of the complexities involved in diverting the utilities and feedback from communities. The new plan gives some respite by splitting the road closures while still delivering the railway improvements which are vital for Oxfordshire, on schedule for the end of 2024.
The plan also means that most of the work will be completed during spring/summer months meaning less of an impact on school and university terms.
Claire Mahoney, Network Rail programme director for Oxfordshire Connect, explained: “Undertaking this work to enable the replacement of the bridge at Botley Road near the station in Oxford is a critical part of the works required to improve the station for the city, increase rail traffic in Oxfordshire and improve the highway for buses into the city.
"There was never going to be an easy way to do this work, it’s extremely complex and needs to be carefully coordinated with multiple utility companies as well as Thames Water and the Environment Agency who are undertaking other works close by. We’ve split the work into two parts this year and next year, so that we reduce the impact on the city’s residents.
"We’re working closely with the City and County councils, and transport providers so it’s easier to work and move around during the closure, but we know this is going to inevitably cause disruption. We urge residents and businesses to understand the impact on them and plan ahead whilst the works are in place.”
Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “It is great to hear we have confirmed dates from Network Rail for work to start to redevelop Oxford Station. It will improve capacity for passengers and freight and is vital for the development of projects such as East West Rail and other improvements.
“As with any project of this scale, it will inevitably mean disruption – in this case the closure of Botley Road for two significant periods. While this cannot be avoided, we will do all we can to minimise the impact on the rest of the road network. We will work closely with Network Rail and our other partners, such as the bus companies, to keep the city moving during this period.”
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council said: “This work is critical to our plans for creating a sustainable transport network across Oxford and Oxfordshire and for improving the national rail network. However, I do not underestimate the immediate impact this will have on residents and businesses in and around the city.
"We will continue to engage with the County Council on their plans to mitigate the impact of the closure. While I understand some pre-emptive traffic management measures will be put in place, regular monitoring across the network will be essential to enable them to make additional rapid responses to address issues caused by the closure."
The project timeline is as follows:
- April to October 2023 – Botley Road part closure until end of October for utility diversion work
- 29 July to 6 August 2023 – Track work and prep work for new platform – rail services impacted. Alternative travel arrangements and advice will be publicised in advance
- March to October 2024 – Botley Road closed for highway work
- August 2024 – Four-day rail closure for bridge replacement