New Bicester Village station set to bring influx of shoppers and visitors to town

By Sam McGregor

New Bicester Village station set to bring influx of shoppers and visitors to town

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A £320m “historic” rail project that’s been a decade in the making is open, with hopes that it will mark “a new market” for Bicester.

The doors and tracks of the new Bicester Village, Oxford Parkway and Islip stations were launched yesterday helping to create the first new rail link from a British city to London for 100 years.

The final section of the line between Oxford Parkway to Wolvercote, Kidlington, and Oxford Station is due to open in the spring.

Just hours earlier workmen were putting the finishing touches to Bicester Village Station’s car park.

The new rail link has been hailed as “key infrastructure” for an expanding Bicester.

Former Chiltern Railways chairman Adrian Shooter came up with the idea for the link in 1993.

But the vision only started to become a reality after Chiltern Railways got its 20-year franchise in 2002 because of a clause to investigate the possibility of opening a railway to Oxford. In 2004 the Bicester Town Station to Oxford line was chosen.

Mr Shooter said: “It’s great, really fantastic. I know it’s going to be an extremely busy station.”

The rail operator invested £130m in the line. The rest came from Network Rail.

Chiltern managing director Rob Brighouse said it was an “historic day”. He said: “It’s a tremendous feeling 10 years in the making.

“It’s now full steam ahead opening the line in Oxford.”

The new rail link offers two new fast trains an hour during the day between Oxford Parkway and London, via Bicester Village Station.

Town and district councillor Lynn Pratt said the new station was “very impressive” and was an “asset” to the town.

Karen Curtin, Cherwell District Council’s director for Bicester, said the new rail link was part of the town’s “key infrastructure” and would “open a new market for Bicester” including encouraging businesses to relocate to the town.

Once fully open, the new London service looks set to attract 250,000 commuters a year and lure some of the 6.3 million Bicester Village shoppers away from their cars.

Miranda Markham of Bicester Village said: “The new link to Oxford will be popular with the many tourist visitors to Bicester Village, whilst the proximity of the station to the town will make it easier to walk into the town centre.”

Independent councillor Les Sibley said all the “pain” of the construction work was “worthwhile”.

He said: “Once the link to Oxford city station is open it will give people an alternative to get into the city centre rather than being stuck in a traffic jam on the A34.”

Network Rail will continue work on the East West project to upgrade the rail link between Reading and Bedford via Oxford and Bicester due to open in 2019.