I was pleased to welcome East West Rail’s senior management back to Bicester yesterday to discuss progress on a solution for the London Road crossing with local councillors.
Strategy Director Will Gallagher told us that EWR have listened to feedback from residents in Bicester. Engineers are now assessing the suitability of a location nearer to the current crossing for a possible new road bridge, as well as a location further to the east. Clearly, a new bridge anywhere in Bicester would have significant impacts which need to be properly assessed. I emphasised the need for detailed designs of the options, so residents can see for themselves what these would look like.
EWR are also undertaking a more in-depth study of future barrier down time at the current crossing. I was pleased to hear that initial assessments suggest barrier down time from 2025 will be less than predicted, while work is continuing on revised estimates for 2030 onwards. We also received important assurances from Will that simply leaving the crossing open without any other solution or mitigation is not an option. I welcome any proposal which keeps the crossing open for local traffic and hope that Oxfordshire County Council will work with EWR to maximise the chance of this.
At the same time, EWR are exploring options for an additional accessible crossing for pedestrians and cyclists at London Road. EWR understand the strength of local feeling on this and are continuing to look at the possibility of an underpass to this end.
EWR have committed to reaching a single, comprehensive solution for London Road this winter. The councillors and I welcomed the progress which is being made, and will meet again once the feasibility studies have concluded. I will continue to hold EWR to account until a proper solution for our town is found once and for all.