Frustrations grow over lack of transparency on major rail project affecting Bicester

15

Frustration is brewing over a lack of progress and transparency around a major national railway project.

Beth West, CEO of East West Rail (EWR), the company behind the under-construction rail line running from Cambridge to Oxford, with various stops along the way, visited Bicester last Thursday.

Ms West was taken to see the London Road level crossing – which was recently the subject of EWR’s public consultation – by North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis.

After this, Ms Prentis chaired a roundtable discussion with the EWR senior leadership and a cross-party group of Bicester councillors.

Ms Prentis said: “EWR committed to come back to us with more detailed plans on the most viable options.

“We have agreed to meet again to discuss these plans in two months’ time.”

However, one councillor present at the roundtable meeting has expressed frustration at the government’s uncertainty with regards to this project.

County Councillor for Otmoor Calum Miller said: “We need Beth to prioritise a solution for London Road in the funding bid she puts to government.

Read more: Antisocial behaviour drives man to buy CCTV camera 

“She told us East West Rail won’t publish a response to the recent public consultation until they know who the new rail minister is.

“I am frustrated that progress on resolving this issue has been held up by national Conservative politics.

“We need to be ready to flood the new rail minister with letters and communications from Bicester so they are in no doubt how important this issue is to us.”

Mr Miller, along with other councillors, launched a campaign in April 2021 to beseech EWR to keep London Road open.

He said: “We welcome all supporters of our campaign, including other local representatives who have now joined.

“This is our last, best chance to keep London Road open.

“Our town cannot be cut in two.”

Chair of Bicester Bike Users Group George Bennett said: “East West Rail are short of cash and under enormous pressure to save costs on the project.

“It’s almost inevitable that a vehicle flyover won’t happen, so the company should really come clean about its thinking so that more informed debate can be had about enabling residents living south of the railway to access the town centre if they do not drive.

“Greater openness would contribute to a much more workable solution.”

A spokesperson for EWR said: “The feedback we received during last year’s consultation is shaping the design of the railway, so it’s vital that we take the time needed to give real consideration to each of the comments we received.

“People rightly want to know how their feedback has been considered and we will update everyone as soon as we can.”

Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

A message from our Editor

Thank you for reading this story and supporting the Oxford Mail.

If you like what we do please consider getting a subscription for the Oxford Mail and in return we’ll give you unrestricted access with less adverts across our website from the latest news, investigations, features, and sport.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok for more. 

You can also join the conversation in our Facebook groups: stay ahead of traffic alerts here, keep up to date with the latest from court here, share your favourite memories of Oxford here, get your daily dose of celebrity news here and take some time out with news that will make you smile. 

If you’ve got a story for our reporters, send us your news here. You can also list an event for free here.