Oxford to Bicester Line

Oxford to Bicester Line
Oxford to Bicester Line
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Oxfordshire
South East England
Stations 3
Services 1
Opened 1850
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Chiltern Railways
Character Rural
No. of tracks One
Track gauge Standard Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) Standard gauge
[v · d · e]Oxford to Bicester Line
Unknown BSicon "exCONTg"
former Varsity Line to Cambridge
Continuation to left Unknown BSicon "xkKRZu+xl" Unknown BSicon "ekABZq+l" Continuation to right
Chiltern Main Line Banbury - High Wycombe
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Planned chord for 2013
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Tubbs Crossing
Unknown BSicon "exBUE"
B4100 London Road
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Bicester Town
A41 road
Junction to left Continuation to right
Bicester Military Railway
Level crossing
Langford Lane
Unknown BSicon "eHST"
Wendlebury Halt
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M40 motorway
Unknown BSicon "eHST"
Charlton Halt
Unknown BSicon "eHST"
Oddington Halt
Stop on track
B4027 road
Kidlington Road
Level crossing
Mill Lane
Bridge over water
River Ray
occupation bridge
A4165 road
Unknown BSicon "eHST"
Oxford Road Halt and proposed Water Eaton Parkway
Unknown BSicon "exCONTr" Unknown BSicon "eABZrd"
Oxford Road Junction with Buckinghamshire Junction Railway
Enter and exit tunnel
Wolvercote Tunnel
Unknown BSicon "eHST"
Wolvercote Halt
Unknown BSicon "mKRZo"
Oxford Canal
Continuation backward Straight track
Cherwell Valley Line
Junction from left Unknown BSicon "xABZrf"
Oxford North Junction
Straight track Unknown BSicon "exHST"
Port Meadow Halt
Unknown BSicon "mKRZo" Unknown BSicon "umKRZuxswq"
Sheepwash Channel
Straight track Unknown BSicon "exKBHFe"
Oxford Rewley Road
Station on track
Continuation forward
Cherwell Valley Line to Didcot Parkway

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]

Current services

Passenger services are operated by Chiltern Railways, who took over from First Great Western on 22 May 2011.[2] Since December 2008, Oxfordshire County Council has been funding improvements to services on the line.[citation needed] The service on Mondays to Saturdays was improved with an evening service and a doubling of the number of trains on Saturdays. From May 2009, there were further improvements with extra trains during the daytime on Mondays to Fridays and a new all-year round Sunday service, with a train every 90 minutes. There are now 11 trains from Mondays to Thursdays, 12 trains on Fridays, 13 on Saturdays and nine on Sundays.

Speeds on the line are limited to 40 mph (64 km/h) because of the poor condition of the track, and 25 mph (40 km/h) on the wooden bridge over the River Ray.[citation needed]

On 22 May 2011, Chiltern Railways took over all passenger operations on the line. This is in advance of the new London Marylebone to Oxford service which is due to start in 2013.[2]

Future plans

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

Evergreen 3

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 Water Eaton 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]

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.[4]


  1. ^ http://www.bicesterlink.info
  2. ^ a b Rail Magazine Issue 664, 23rd February - 8th March 2011, page 25 'Chiltern to take over Bicester-Oxford trains'.
  3. ^ New rail link is capital idea (from the Oxford Mail)
  4. ^ MK rail link plan on track (from The Oxford Times)


External links

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