Artist impression of new railway station as part of Cowley Branch Line

Visualisation of the Oxford Littlemore station from 2022


Oxford City Council, working with Oxfordshire County Council, local landowners, Network Rail and Department for Transport, is reviewing ways to reopen passenger services to the Cowley Branch Line in Oxford. 

If funded, the line would be upgraded and two new stations would be built: “Oxford Littlemore” (for Littlemore and The Oxford Science Park) and “Oxford Cowley” (for Blackbird Leys and ARC Oxford). The planning assumption is for two trains per hour via Oxford Station through to London Marylebone Station. 

The new rail stations would connect significant employment sites and residential areas to the city centre in less than 10 minutes, with the possibility of direct connections to Oxford Parkway, Bicester and beyond. This would help to improve the public transport options for journeys into and around the City, increasing overall capacity locally, reducing congestion on our roads and contributing to a better rail network in Oxfordshire and the wider region. Network Rail estimates that more than 1,000,000 journeys per year would be made using the new stations after only three years of operation.

In addition to transforming journeys, reopening the Cowley Branch Line to passengers would support the sustainable development of new homes and commercial employment spaces already proposed near the stations.


An innovative local funding mix has been brought together to develop the Full Business Case (FBC) for this project, including funding from ARC Oxford, The Oxford Science Park, Ellison Institute of Technology, Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council. However, the delivery phase is still to be funded. There is a need for significant investment, including from other local parties, if the scheme is to be delivered in the coming years.

The Outline Business Case, delivered by Network Rail in 2022, established that the project has a good benefit to cost ratio, meaning the project has a strong case for Government and other third-party investment. It will be subject to rigorous value for money and affordability assessments in due course.


Open the Cowley Branch Line development location in Google Maps.

Project Timeline

Work underway

In April 2023, The City Council instructed Network Rail to start work on the FBC. The business case will produce an updated cost estimate based on outline designs for the rail infrastructure, which includes the two new stations, as well as an updated project delivery programme.  

In December 2023, SLC Rail was awarded the contract to develop plans for walking, cycling and public transport connections to the stations from the surrounding residential and commercial neighbourhoods (both existing and planned). This separate Infrastructure Place Study will also help the City Council, County Council and partners to finalise and implement the funding strategy for the delivery phase of the project, which will rely on a combination of local and external investment. 

Concept design work on a potential pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Blackbird Leys and Oxford Retail Park started in late 2023. The location of the proposed bridge will help people to access the proposed Oxford Cowley Station. Design work for the bridge is progressing at the same time as station design, to ensure the best outcome for both.  

Funded work in 2024 and 2025: 

  • Outline designs for the stations and rail infrastructure 
  • Completion of the Full Business Case 
  • Developing designs for improved access to and from the proposed new stations and the vision for improved connectivity throughout the wider area affected by the stations 
  • Finalising and starting to implement funding strategy for delivery phase 

Unfunded work from 2025 onwards: 

  • Detailed design and construction of stations and additional infrastructure  

Key documents and websites 

Get involved

The detailed programme for stakeholder and public engagement for this project is being finalised. There will be opportunities to contribute throughout the project. 

In the meantime, you can contact us about this project at or sign up to receive email updates as the project progresses.  

Artist impression of station on Cowley Branch Line

Visualisation of the Oxford Cowley station from 2022

Rate this page