Bicester Councillors renewed calls for an acceptable solution to the London Road level crossing as they joined Victoria Prentis MP in meeting the new CEO of East West Rail, Beth West, today.
Barrier down time at the crossing continues to be a significant issue and the situation looks set to worsen when East West Rail fully opens. East West Rail Ltd has repeatedly maintained that barrier down time could be countered by signalling improvements but it has always been clear that this would not be a sufficient response to increased usage on the line and it is for this reason that Bicester Conservative Councillors and Victoria Prentis MP have pressed, from the outset, for a longer-term solution.
In a public consultation held last Spring, East West Rail Ltd finally conceded that a more radical solution for the crossing was required but their proposals lacked sufficient detail.
Councillors Dan Sames (Cherwell District Councillor for Bicester South and Ambrosden Ward), Donna Ford (Cherwell District Councillor for Bicester East Ward and Oxfordshire County Councillor for Bicester North Division), Michael Waine (Oxfordshire County Councillor for Bicester Town Division), Zoe McLernon (Bicester Town Councillor for South Ward) and Victoria used the meeting to stress the need for EWR to further develop the most viable options for the level crossing and reiterated that any solution must retain access to the station and town centre from the south of the town.
Ms West confirmed that EWR was working hard to produce a satisfactory solution.
Councillors Sames, Ford, Waine and McLernon said: “It was good to meet with Beth today. The residents of Bicester have been waiting a long time for a meaningful proposal on the London Road crossing. We appreciate that it is not an easy fix but we will continue to work with EWR to find a good solution. We remain resolute that closing the crossing without adequate access for residents from the south of the town would be totally unacceptable. This has been our red line for many years and continues to be so.”
Victoria Prentis MP added: “It was great to welcome Beth to Bicester today to visit the London Road crossing and hear local concerns in person. While the improved connectivity which East West Rail will bring is broadly welcome, it is vital that we find a viable solution for the London Road crossing. We were clear that EWR must not cut the town in half by simply closing the crossing.
I also used this opportunity to reiterate local concerns about the level of disruption currently being caused by construction activity in and around Bicester. In particular, we have seen an unacceptable number of heavy construction vehicles using unsuitable routes in recent weeks. While a certain level of disruption is inevitable for a project of this scale, Beth agreed to speak to the EWR Alliance about improving communication and minimising disruption wherever possible.”
The cross-party meeting was also attended by local Lib Dem and Independent Councillors.