RECENT weeks have seen calls made for a study into the prospects for a light railway link, using modern trams, between Witney and Oxford to cut congestion on the A40.

A new book by Witney historian Stanley C Jenkins reminds us that a rail route between Oxford and Witney is nothing new.

The Witney & Fairford Branch Through Time takes a pictorial journey along the line from its heyday, to its demise in 1970, along with recent photographs showing new uses found for old stations, including Carterton, where the station opened to serve RAF Brize Norton during the Second World War has become a riding stable.

The first section opened between Yarnton Junction and Witney in 1861, with the extension to Lechlade and Fairford opening in 1873 as part of plan to create a link through to Cheltenham. Lack of money meant the line never got past Fairford.

The Second World War gave the line’s fortunes a boost, with the creation of Carterton station and loop lines added to allow extra trains to operate but traffic plummeted in the 1950s.

The last passenger trains ran on June 16, 1962, with the route west of Witney closing on the same day, but freight trains ran to Witney until 1970 with the track from Yarnton Junction on the Cotswold Line taken up for scrap the following summer.

  • The Witney & Fairford Branch Through Time, by Stanley C Jenkins, is published by Amberley Publishing, £14.99.