TRAMS or a monorail could be used to transport people between Witney and Oxford, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council has said.
Ian Hudpseth, pictured, was speaking as he prepares to visit Witney on Monday for a public meeting to outline his Connecting Oxfordshire vision and hear residents’ views.
The Woodstock councillor said he hoped to form a consensus about the best way to tackle the problem of the A40.
He said: “The A40 has been very much in the spotlight recently and there’s an ongoing and very healthy debate about what might be done to improve it over and above what is already planned.
“Away from the subject of the A40, I have been delighted to see people thinking out of the box and talking about trams, monorails or railway links between Witney and Oxford.
“With so much development planned in West Oxfordshire, particularly around Carterton, we’ve got to start looking at the period beyond 2020 and being imaginative about what transport network solutions there may be.
“Let’s continue the debate and see if we can form a consensus among communities in West Oxfordshire and along the A40 so that when we know more about funding that would be available beyond 2020, we’re ready as a community to act swiftly and access the available national cash.
“I certainly want to see the debate continue about whether a tram or monorail or railway link between Oxford and West Oxfordshire would be popular.
“I know that there is still to this day a lot of sadness about the closure of the Oxford to Witney railway in the 1960s. How can we rejuvenate that public transport link and what variety of transport system would be most viable and popular?”
According to a report commissioned by Oxfordshire’s councils, West Oxfordshire should take up to 13,200 new homes by 2031, while 80,000 jobs are expected to come to the county by that year.
Mr Hudspeth said he is interested in hearing how other transport problems in West Oxfordshire could be tackled, not just the issue of the A40.
He said: “While discussing Witney’s transport problems is very important, we can’t forget Carterton, Bampton, Burford, Eynsham, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Woodstock and the many other settlements.
"How might they link with Witney, with Oxford and with the rest of Oxfordshire in an era of more housing and economic expansion?”
Opened in 1861, the railway line between Witney and Oxford was closed to passenger traffic in 1962, with freight trains ending in 1970.
A campaign group called Witney Oxford Transport has recently been set up to encourage the council to update a feasibility study into reopening the line.
- The meeting on Monday is at Henry Box School, in Church Green, and starts at 7.30pm.
- For more details of the county council's ideas, see Connecting Oxfordshire