Oxford Station platform 5 and western entrance

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swt_passenger

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Network Rail have issued a press release that explains exactly what today’s £69m is for: I thought a specific thread ought to be started, as although it is related to EWR NR consider it to be a separate project. For some reason DfT have announced it as a Southampton to Midlands freight improvement, without saying Oxford at all.

”Oxford station is set to be transformed thanks to a £69m funding boost to improve capacity and journey times and develop plans for a new platform and entrance which will mean more trains will be able to serve the station in the future.

Today (Wednesday 26 May) the Department for Transport confirmed it will be investing into Oxford’s railway, with work set to start next year.

The funding will progress the next stage of development work for the introduction of a new track and platform to be added alongside the existing platform 4, creating an island platform on the west-side of the station. This will significantly improve station capacity from 2024 to accommodate new services, such as East West Rail (EWR). This investment is separate but complimentary to the consultation currently underway on EWR: a project which would see Oxford better connect with destinations to Cambridge.

Designs will also be developed for a new western station entrance that will be built next to Botley Road and will link up to the new platform via a subway. The new entrance will make the station more accessible to people living to the west of the station, reducing walking time by up to three minutes.”

 
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swt_passenger

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That sounds fairly typical of the DfT. Somebody obviously read an out-of-date script!
I find it hard to believe even for DfT. But comparing the main NR and DfT stories it’s pretty clear DfT pressers have missed the point completely. Fortunately local media has also picked up the real story.
 

Brissle Girl

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So when it says funding "to progress the next stage of development work" - what precisely does that mean? £69m just to do all the pre-work?
 

Cdd89

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There is of course already a western entrance to Oxford station, it’s just closed most of the time for revenue protection reasons. The new platform is very interesting, though I can’t find an overhead map of the new layout?
 

FGW_DID

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There is of course already a western entrance to Oxford station, it’s just closed most of the time for revenue protection reasons. The new platform is very interesting, though I can’t find an overhead map of the new layout?

2F599FBE-F1B9-411C-8037-7A4D9409B61E.jpeg

This is on ‘Tornado’ which seemed to be the replacement for P2 (which is still used however). It’s been showing as this ever since Oxford was resignalled.
 

swt_passenger

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So when it says funding "to progress the next stage of development work" - what precisely does that mean? £69m just to do all the pre-work?
That’s a mystery to me too. Probably needs someone like @Bald Rick to explain what that funding achieves - but you’d hope it would include at least some visible work…
 

Mikey C

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Are the middle 2 tracks without platforms used at all? They seem a bit of a waste of space otherwise
 

cle

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Would this be the last platform to be built? Or is it setting up an island while the 'main station' is rebuilt fully, including another through platform? Curious as to the end state.

Could the line towards Bicester, be accessed from P5? Crossing conflicts aside.
 

4COR

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A through platform 2 will be much harder to accomplish while still allowing double-deckers up Botley Rd. There's quite an incline up to the mini roundabout already and they'll land up having to drop a lot of Frideswide Square, and it'd possibly impact on the bus stops there. And it looks (from the council "masterplan") that they finally want to put the bus station near the railway station, and so that might get in the way a little. EDIT - ignore that, I was reading the plan wrong - it has the through platform 2 on the Council plan!


Does a new platform 5 cause any issues if used for E-W rail due to the flat junction, or do the speed improvements there avoid any bottleneck?

Are the middle 2 tracks without platforms used at all? They seem a bit of a waste of space otherwise

Freights (intermodals to Southampton etc) use them a lot!
 

pdeaves

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I'm wondering how this work on a Western entrance fits in with the aspirations the City Council have for a complete redevelopment of the station - https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20182/regeneration_and_development/949/oxford_station_masterplan
Hopefully the replacement of the bridge over Botley Road doesn't preclude a future through platform 2.
The western entrance and related through platform is one element of the city council's grand plan so yes, it fits. Any development also takes account of a future through platform 2.
 

coppercapped

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Are the middle 2 tracks without platforms used at all? They seem a bit of a waste of space otherwise
The container and other freight trains use them to keep them out of the way of the passenger trains - the loops are some of the few places where freight trains can be regulated between Leamington and Didcot. The container trains run roughly hourly - sometimes fewer, sometimes more - in each direction.
 

zwk500

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Could the line towards Bicester, be accessed from P5? Crossing conflicts aside.
As it is, and if the layout in post #6 is accurate and presuming no other crossovers, then no. Any train to Bicester would need to use P4 or the Down through.
Does a new platform 5 cause any issues if used for E-W rail due to the flat junction, or do the speed improvements there avoid any bottleneck?
A new platform 5 would resolve any issues with EWR crossing the flat junction, but mainly by taking GWR and XC around the back and letting EWR use 4 for the parallel move at Oxford North junction. Then the only issue would be pathing trains to Bicester between trains from Banbury. It wouldn't make much sense operationally to put EWR in 5 and Banburys in 4, as it introduces a totally needless conflict.
 

hwl

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As it is, and if the layout in post #6 is accurate and presuming no other crossovers, then no. Any train to Bicester would need to use P4 or the Down through.

A new platform 5 would resolve any issues with EWR crossing the flat junction, but mainly by taking GWR and XC around the back and letting EWR use 4 for the parallel move at Oxford North junction. Then the only issue would be pathing trains to Bicester between trains from Banbury. It wouldn't make much sense operationally to put EWR in 5 and Banburys in 4, as it introduces a totally needless conflict.
Indeed P5 will help massively as regards shorter timetabled headways northbound. It will also allow reversals in practice back towards Didcot from P4/5 reducing the current turnback north of the station with 20-30mins in the down sidings, which will improve the usability of P3 directly and indirectly P1/2 as access to P2 is then clear for longer enabling more parallel moves as will replacing the points at New North Jn with higher speed ones.

Moree detail here:

 

BrianW

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Are the middle 2 tracks without platforms used at all? They seem a bit of a waste of space otherwise
The picture here might be useful for non-Oxford folk:

It's from 2016 but still helpful; it's looking north.
You can see the two 'through' tracks.
The platform to the left is Platform 4.
A new Platform 5 will need additional track to the west, so very close to the YHA building on the north side of Botley Road.
The west 'entrance' will be taken away by a new track so will need the footbridge etc to be extended and I dare say residents of Cripley Road will be 'concerned'.
The gradient of Botley Road approaching the rail bridge and already low headroom will also be a challenge.
Similarly on the Frideswide Square (ie City or east side) will also be a challenge re an extended Platform 2. The creation of and changes to Frideswide Square have been 'problematic', disruptive and expensive.
There was at one time a proposal for a replacement Oxford station to the south and linking in to the south-west of a 'redeveloped' Westgate Centre. This would have given opportunity to address these long-standing issues.

Hoping this helps ;)
 

JamesT

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The picture here might be useful for non-Oxford folk:

It's from 2016 but still helpful; it's looking north.
You can see the two 'through' tracks.
The platform to the left is Platform 4.
A new Platform 5 will need additional track to the west, so very close to the YHA building on the north side of Botley Road.
The west 'entrance' will be taken away by a new track so will need the footbridge etc to be extended and I dare say residents of Cripley Road will be 'concerned'.
The gradient of Botley Road approaching the rail bridge and already low headroom will also be a challenge.
Similarly on the Frideswide Square (ie City or east side) will also be a challenge re an extended Platform 2. The creation of and changes to Frideswide Square have been 'problematic', disruptive and expensive.
There was at one time a proposal for a replacement Oxford station to the south and linking in to the south-west of a 'redeveloped' Westgate Centre. This would have given opportunity to address these long-standing issues.

Hoping this helps ;)

The link posted by @hwl in the previous post does cover a lot of what work will be required for Platform 5. The YHA will need to be demolished and the Western entrance will be in its place.

There were some calling for the station to be relocated to Oxpens. But I think the issues of building on a new floodplain site outweighed any potential advantages from being able to come at things from a clean slate.
 

Bald Rick

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That’s a mystery to me too. Probably needs someone like @Bald Rick to explain what that funding achieves - but you’d hope it would include at least some visible work…

By the looks of the (carefully worded) announcement this covers design and enabling works for Oxford station itself - the new platform, new Western entrance, and the rebuilding of the Botley Rd Bridge. It also covers the actual delivery of work to close two level crossings (Sandy Lane and Yarnton Lane), and replace those with bridges*, and installation of 3 new high speed crossovers at Oxford North Junction.

*this work is linked to, but not dependent on, new development proposals in the area. Not sure if the bridges are definitely happening, or whether they are footpath or road bridges. Someone local will know as I expect there has been much local debate!
 

swt_passenger

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There was at one time a proposal for a replacement Oxford station to the south and linking in to the south-west of a 'redeveloped' Westgate Centre. This would have given opportunity to address these long-standing issues.

Hoping this helps ;)
I never saw a southern proposal (eg Oxpens area), that allowed for what we now know as EWR and even the present Oxford to Marylebone route. Always seemed very Paddington orientated, as though there were hardly any through services at all…

It’s only of academic interest now as resiting the station must have been long abandoned, presumably once the NR realists got heavily involved…
 
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FGW_DID

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Could the Marylebone services terminate at Rewley Road? Last time I was in Oxford that was a tyre depot, I think.

Now (and has been for ages) the Said Business School plus housing:

E57A460F-5BE1-48E6-83D3-E2F4545068B7.jpeg

The old swing bridge is still in existence though (top of picture) and as an aside the former Rewley Road Station Building can be found at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.

The Chiltern Marylebone trains use the ‘new‘ bay platforms (1&2).
 

hwl

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LNW-GW Joint

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This Railway Gazette article is a bit more helpful on what has been funded.
It looks like design work for the station, and real work on the track to close a couple of level crossings and install 3 fast crossovers at Oxford North Jn.
This improves capacity and speeds on the Oxford-Birmingham run.
The station upgrade itself will need a lot more money to complete.
Transpennine Route Upgrade, Oxford remodelling and station funding announced | Rail Business UK | Railway Gazette International
Level crossings at Sandy Lane and Yarnton Lane will be closed, and three high speed crossovers installed at Oxford North Junction.
The changes will enable the operation of additional Oxford to Birmingham trains and reduce journey times by up to 2 min, as well as providing capacity to accommodate an additional 12 freight trains per day from the port of Southampton to the Midlands and northern England.
Further funding is required for the full implementation of the remodelling, and a business case is to be submitted to DfT later this year with a decision on final funding expected in spring 2022.
 
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swt_passenger

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This Railway Gazette article is a bit more helpful on what has been funded.
It looks like design work for the station, and real work on the track to close a couple of level crossings and install 2 fast crossovers at Oxford North Jn.
This improves capacity and speeds on the Oxford-Birmingham run.
The station upgrade itself will need a lot more money to complete.
Transpennine Route Upgrade, Oxford remodelling and station funding announced | Rail Business UK | Railway Gazette International
But isn’t it also basically what Network Rail announced if you follow the link in post #1? And confirmed by Bald Rick in reply #19?
 

4COR

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Indeed P5 will help massively as regards shorter timetabled headways northbound. It will also allow reversals in practice back towards Didcot from P4/5 reducing the current turnback north of the station with 20-30mins in the down sidings, which will improve the usability of P3 directly and indirectly P1/2 as access to P2 is then clear for longer enabling more parallel moves as will replacing the points at New North Jn with higher speed ones.

Moree detail here:

Thanks - that's interesting. Preventing the need to do the reversal in the down sidings (without blocking the down platform) is useful as that allows P3 to be used more often. With the proposal for 3tph (increasing to 4tph?) on E-W rail alone, on top of the 2tph to Marylebone, and conflicting freight, southbound Cotswold and XC services means North Oxford is going to be a busy place at times...
 

mr_jrt

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I still maintain having the freight loops in the platform area is a bit pointless when you could just locate them further north or south and use the platform space for something more useful...like more platforms.
 

Bald Rick

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I still maintain having the freight loops in the platform area is a bit pointless when you could just locate them further north or south and use the platform space for something more useful...like more platforms.

I think you’re missing the point. They aren’t freight loops. They are through tracks which freight trains use. It enables freight to go through the station at speed, whilst passenger trains are in the platform (having terminated, for example). And because the freight goes through at speed it enables the route to be clear for following or conflicting moves more quickly, thereby increasing capacity.

Besides, taking 2 platformless tracks out of the middle of a formation would enable precisely zero additional platforms - it’s not enough space.
 

BrianW

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I saw somewhere above reference to trains crossing from Platform 4/5 to the Bicester line? Could something be provided (reinstated) to allow grade separation via Yarnton-ish off the Worcester lines?
It seems to me someone needs (maybe they have already?) to consider where if anywhere trains off EWR might go to if they are not to just terminate and return from Platforms 1 and 2. Are more platforms definitely needed?
 
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