23 January 2021 – today we received the encouraging news that the Minister for Rail, Chris Heaton-Harris, views the Witney to Oxford railway line as a suitable project for consideration by the Restoring Your Railways Ideas Fund. This fund was created for organisations like WOT, seeking to develop proposals for the restoration of long-lost railway branches. The Fund’s submission deadline is March 5, with grants of £50,000 awarded to successful applicants to help fund feasibility studies.
Mr Heaton-Harris, Minister for Rail, told reporters at the Oxford Mail that the Witney to Oxford line, long promoted as a potential commuter branch line, would be ideal for this fund. He went on saying: “That is exactly the sort of thing we are looking at, areas where we can make a difference with not too big sums of money.”
The comment in question was made during the announcement by the Department of Transport that 750 million pounds had been allocated to complete the Oxford to Cambridge railway line (also known as the East-West line). WOT has long campaigned for a joined-up approach to rail transport in our region. The Carterton-Witney-Oxford rail line could eventually join the Cowley branch, scheduled for reopening as part of a more comprehensive regional commuter plan and – further on – even joining up the East-West rail.
Charlie Maynard, Chairman of WOT, said: “We are hugely encouraged by the expressions of support for our project over the last few weeks. This endorsement is a big step forward for our campaign. Our district is much in need of a comprehensive public transport solution and this is a key step in the right direction”.