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SideTracked - Oxford Traditional Geocache

Hidden : 03/15/2021
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Geocache Description:

I thought it was about time Oxford had another SideTracked, so I placed one.

This cache belongs to the SideTracked series. It is not designed to take you to a magical place with a breath-taking view. It's a distraction for the weary traveller, but anyone else can go and find it too. More Information can be found at the SideTracked Website

Oxford Railway Station is a mainline railway station, one of two serving the city of Oxford, England. It is about 0.5 miles (800m) west of the city centre, north-west of Frideswide Square and the eastern end of Botley Road. It is on the line for trains between London Paddington and Hereford via Worcester Shrub Hill. It is a starting point for fast and local trains to London Paddington and London Marylebone, and for local trains to Reading, Worcester (Shrub Hill and Foregate stations), and Banbury. It is also on the north/south Cross Country Route from Manchester Piccadilly and Newcastle via Birmingham New Street and Reading to Southampton Central and Bournemouth. The station is managed by Great Western Railway, and also served by CrossCountry and Chiltern Railways trains. Immediately to the north is Sheepwash Channel Railway Bridge (GCK57Z) Swing Low over the Sheepwash Channel.


A GWR 2-8-0 at Oxford in 1965


The Great Western Railway (GWR) opened to Oxford on 12 June 1844 with a terminus station in what is now Western Road, Grandpont. (See (GC8VPR4) Really SideTracked - Grandpont Terminus.)

In 1845 the Oxford and Rugby Railway (ORR) began to build its line, starting from a junction at New Hinksey 0.75 miles (1.2km) south of the GWR terminus. The junction was known as Millstream Junction, and was between the future sites of Hinksey Halt and Abingdon Road Halt, both of which were opened in 1908. The GWR took over the ORR while it was still being built, and opened the line as far as Banbury on 2 September 1850. For just over two years, trains from Oxford to Banbury started at Grandpont, and had to reverse at Millstream Junction in order to continue their journey.

The ORR line included a new through station in Park End Street, so when this opened with the extension of the line from Banbury to Birmingham on 1 October 1852, the original Grandpont terminus was closed to passenger services. The old station at Grandpont became a goods depot, but was closed completely on 26 November 1872, the day that the broad gauge tracks were removed north of Didcot. The site of the station was then sold, as was the trackbed from Millstream Junction, some 66 chains (1,300m) in length. Major subsequent changes were removal of the last 7ft 0¼in (2,140mm) gauge tracks in 1872 and of the train shed in 1890–1.

The station was substantially rebuilt by the Western Region of British Railways in 1971, further improvements being carried out during 1974 including the provision of a new travel centre, and the new main building and footbridge were added in 1990 by Network SouthEast.

Planning permission was granted for the expansion to support the proposed Chiltern Railways service to London Marylebone and the service was subsequently launched on 12 December 2016. Meanwhile, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Network Rail have developed a masterplan for further development of the station.

Flood remediation work south of the station, at Hinksey, saw services at the station curtailed & replaced by buses to/from Didcot Parkway in July and August 2016. This allowed the trackbed to be raised by 2 feet (0.65 m) and new culverts installed to reduce the impact of flooding from the nearby River Thames upon the railway (which has caused service interruptions on several occasions in recent years). Concurrent bridge repair work at Hanborough and signalling alterations at Banbury was also carried out over this period. The £18 million scheme was completed on 15 August 2016.

The station has always been busy. In addition to current services, formerly there were others over the Wycombe Railway, Oxford, Witney and Fairford Railway, and Blenheim and Woodstock Branch Line. Through trains from the north to the Southern Railway also typically changed locomotives at Oxford.

It was for a time known as Oxford General station to distinguish it from the London and North Western Railway's Oxford Rewley Road terminus of the Varsity Line to Cambridge, which was adjacent and came under joint management in 1933. On 1 October 1951 British Railways closed Rewley Road station to passengers and transferred its services to this station.

South of the station immediately west of the railway tracks is Osney Cemetery, established in 1848 just before the current station site. Nearby is the site of the former Osney Abbey.


Further expansion

In November 2009 it was announced that Oxford station would be expanded. A £10 million joint development between Network Rail and Oxfordshire County Council would create a new platform on part of the station’s long-stay car park. The new platform (south of platform 1) would allow trains to arrive and depart from the same track and reduce the need for empty trains to be shunted around the station. Currently, in busy periods trains can be kept waiting outside of the station for a platform to become available.

A new covered footbridge would also be built over Botley Road to link the station building with the new platform, replacing the existing footbridge to the car park. The new platform was to have been brought into use during 2011, and was to be part of the city and county councils' West End Area Action Plan for the western part of the city centre, which also considers other rail projects such as Evergreen 3 and the Paddington–Oxford electrification.

Chiltern Railways has raised the possibility of developing a service between Oxford and the Cowley branch line.

A Chiltern railways service at Oxford in 2017


In August 2008 Chiltern Railways announced Project Evergreen 3, a proposal to construct a 0.25 miles (400m) chord between the Oxford to Bicester Line and the Chiltern Main Line, to allow a new Oxford to London Marylebone service to run via Bicester Village and High Wycombe. Work began in 2014; the project, which included reinstatement of double track between Bicester and Oxford, was completed in 2015 as far as the new station at Oxford Parkway, and the service from here to Bicester and Marylebone commenced on 26 October 2015. Services to Oxford were planned to start in Spring 2016, although locals objected to the extra noise that would be caused. Network Rail completed the final stages of infrastructure work in the Wolvercote Tunnel and Peartree areas in September 2016, and Chiltern Railways began services from Oxford to Oxford Parkway (See (GC97N47) SideTracked - Oxford Parkway ) on 11 December 2016.

East West Rail

The Chiltern route out of Oxford is shared with the western section of East West Rail, which reuses part of historic Varsity Line route between Oxford and Cambridge. The initial services are planned to commence in 2023, calling at Winslow and Bletchley, then Milton Keynes Central or Bedford. Extension to Cambridge is planned, but not scheduled.

A CrossCountry Class 220 passing a GWR Class 165 at Oxford

Great Western Railway run two fast trains per hour to London Paddington via Reading and two stopping services to Didcot Parkway or Reading per hour. The stopping trains mainly originate here (a small number come from Banbury), however some fast trains continue to and from Worcester and Hereford.

Chiltern Railways run two fast trains per hour to London Marylebone via High Wycombe. These also call at the nearby Oxford Parkway. Chiltern Railways also provide a limited peak-hour service to Stratford-upon-Avon.

CrossCountry run trains twice per hour to Reading, of which three trains per two hours continue to Southampton Central and one train per hour continues on from Southampton Central to Bournemouth. These trains come from Manchester Piccadilly and Newcastle via Birmingham New Street.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

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Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)