Oxford to Bicester Line

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Oxford to Bicester Line
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Services Suspended
(for upgrade)
Locale Oxfordshire
South East England
Stations 3
Services 1
Opening 1850
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Chiltern Railways
Character Rural
No. of tracks One (currently being increased to two)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Oxford to Bicester Line
former Varsity Line to Cambridge
Chiltern Main Line
Banbury - High Wycombe
Chord (Opens 2015)
Tubbs Crossing
B4100 London Road
Bicester Town
A41 road
Bicester Military Railway
Langford Lane
Wendlebury Halt
M40 motorway
Charlton Halt
Oddington Halt
B4027 road
Kidlington Road
Mill Lane
River Ray
occupation bridge
Oxford Parkway (Opens 2015)
A4165 road
Oxford Road Halt
Oxford Road Junction with
Buckinghamshire Junction Railway
Wolvercote Tunnel
Wolvercote Halt
Oxford Canal
Cherwell Valley Line
Oxford North Junction
Port Meadow Halt
Sheepwash Channel Railway Bridge
and Rewley Road Swing Bridge
Oxford Rewley Road
Cherwell Valley Line
to Didcot Parkway
Denotes bus replacement service
during line closure for upgrade

The Oxford to Bicester Line is a branch line linking Oxford and Bicester in Oxfordshire, England.


The line was opened in 1850 as part of the Buckinghamshire Railway, which in 1879 became part of the London and North Western Railway. In the grouping of Britain's railways in 1923 the L&NWR became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and in the nationalisation of Britain's railways in 1948 the LMS became part of British Railways. Both the LMS and BR ran passenger services between Oxford and Cambridge via the Buckinghamshire Railway, Marston Vale Line and Bedford and Cambridge Railway. This led to the Oxford - Cambridge route being informally called the Varsity Line.

In 1967 British Railways withdrew Oxford - Cambridge services and closed the section of line between Oxford and Bletchley. In 1987 Network SouthEast restored passenger services on the Oxford - Bicester Town railway station section on the initiative of Oxfordshire County Council. In 1988 Network SouthEast rebuilt and reopened Islip station, again with Oxfordshire County Council support.

Since 2005 an enhanced service including Sunday services has run during the weeks before Christmas, mainly for the Bicester Village Shopping Centre adjacent to Bicester Town station. An enhanced service was operated on the weekend of 12 and 13 May 2007 to celebrate the 20th anniversary since the section of line re-opened.

In May 2009 a partnership between First Great Western and Oxfordshire County Council rebranded and relaunched the line as The Bicester Link.[1] On 22 May 2011, Chiltern Railways took over all passenger operations on the line, and it closed for upgrades in February 2014.

Current services[edit]

Since 15 February 2014, the line has been closed for major upgrades. A replacement bus service runs about 15 times a day[2] in its place.

Chiltern Railways intend to re-open the line between the new Oxford (Water Eaton) Parkway station and Bicester in the summer of 2015. The full line is set to re-open from Oxford in spring 2016. At that point, there is expected to be around 2 trains an hour between Oxford, Bicester and London, but only a few of these will stop at Islip.


A Class 165 DMU leaves Wolvercote Tunnel, heading towards Oxford.

Evergreen 3[edit]

In August 2008 Chiltern Railways announced Project Evergreen 3 to create a new passenger service between Oxford and London Marylebone via High Wycombe by 2012. As part of this project Chiltern Railways would double most of the line, build a new Oxford Parkway passenger station to serve Kidlington and north Oxford and open the short 'missing-link' from Bicester Town station to the Chiltern Main Line. This would give Oxford an alternative to First Great Western's rail link to London Paddington and provide Oxford with a direct rail-link to High Wycombe for the first time since British Railways closed the Princes Risborough - Oxford section of the Wycombe Railway in 1964.[3][4]

This work is one element of the East West Rail Link which would see a new 100 mph (160 km/h) service linking Oxford with Milton Keynes, Bedford and possibly also Cambridge.[5]

Work on Evergreen 3 commenced with the closing of the line in February 2014.[6] The works will include complete reconstruction of the line to modern standards, with new track, signalling and bridges, and the infrastructure improvements ready for 'East West Rail' services due in CP5. The line will be double tracked for most of its length, and prepared for electrification. A new 1 km stretch of line will also be built at Bicester, linking with the Chiltern main line.



External links[edit]