MILITARY railway lines around Bicester could get a new lease of life carrying civilian passengers, ministers have indicated.
In the Commons, Bicester MP Tony Baldry asked whether the MoD has been involved in discussions with the Department for Transport over the potential for greater use of old military rail lines around Bicester.
His question followed confirmation of funding for a new east-west rail line linking Bicester with towns such as Milton Keynes, Oxford and Bedford in chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement.
Transport minister Theresa Villiers viewed plans for the east-west rail link when she visited Bicester several weeks ago.
Responding to Mr Baldry’s question in the commons, Ms Villiers said: “Department for Transport officials have worked with defence officials to ensure they are aware of the potential effect of East West Rail on the value and use of defence land at Bicester.
“This includes possible re-use of the MoD railway and freight infrastructure for commercial purposes.”
Mr Robathan: Ministry of Defence (MOD) officials are in discussions with the Department for Transport for the utilisation of the rail network at the MOD site in Bicester. The Department for Transport is supportive of the MOD’s proposals including retention and exploitation of rail connections.
Defence secretary Andrew Robathon said: “MoD officials are in discussions with the Department for Transport for the utilisation of the rail network at the MoD site in Bicester.
“The Department for Transport is supportive of the MOD’s proposals including retention and exploitation of rail connections.”
Afterwards, Mr Baldry said: “The answers given by ministers are incredibly interesting. It is obviously very important for existing infrastructure to be brought back into use and I think the responses to my questions are very encouraging.”