Cherwell Valley line

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Cherwell Valley line
Appleford railway station platforms in 2009.jpg
Appleford railway station
TypeHeavy rail
SystemNational Rail
South East England
OwnerNetwork Rail
Great Western Railway
Rolling stockClass 165 "Turbo"
Class 166 "Turbo Express"
Class 220 "Voyager"
Class 221 "Super Voyager"
Class 800 "Intercity Express Train"
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Cherwell Valley line
34 Banbury
30½ Kings Sutton
Fritwell & Somerton
23⅛ Heyford
19½ Tackley
Shipton cement works
Oxford Western Bypass
(Wolvercote Viaduct)
Wolvercot Platform
Oxford North Junction
10⅜ Oxford
gas works
Oxford (Grandpont)
Hinksey Halt
Millstream Junction
Abingdon Road Halt
Kennington Junction
Mini factory
Abingdon Junction
Abingdon Junction
Culham Cutting
3 Culham
2 Appleford
Gravel pits
Didcot North Junction
0 Didcot Parkway
Great Western main line
to Swindon │ to Reading

The Cherwell Valley line is the railway line between Didcot and Banbury via Oxford. It links the Great Western Main Line and the south to the Chiltern Main Line and the Midlands. The line follows the River Cherwell for much of its route between Oxford and Banbury.

Current and former stations served[edit]

The former station for Bletchingdon was always spelt "Bletchington", which is an alternative spelling for that village's toponym. The former halt at Wolvercote was called "Wolvercot Platform", with a deliberately different spelling of the village's name, to distinguish it from the London and North Western Railway's nearby Wolvercote Halt.


Passenger services are provided by CrossCountry and Great Western Railway. GWR markets the local service between Oxford and Banbury the Oxford Canal Line.

The line carries a large and increasing volume of freight between the Port of Southampton and the English Midlands, much of it in container trains run by Freightliner.


With the exception of the West Coast Main Line, this route is the only route on which domestic UK trains can tilt, something of which Virgin CrossCountry took advantage on trains from the WCML to Reading and beyond, using SuperVoyager trains that can tilt.[1]

CrossCountry's new operator, Arriva, does not run much on the WCML, and considers it not worthwhile to activate the tilt mechanism for the short stretch of the Cherwell Valley line. For this reason many SuperVoyagers have been transferred to Virgin West Coast, who can use their tilting ability on the WCML. The majority of CrossCountry services on the Cherwell Valley line are now worked by standard non-tilting Voyager trains, and any remaining tilting Voyagers have had their tilt function disabled to improve reliability and cut costs.[2]

River Thames[edit]

The line makes three crossings of the River Thames between Oxford and Didcot:


In 1977 the Parliamentary Select Committee on Nationalised Industries recommended considering electrification of more of Britain's rail network, and by 1979 BR presented a range of options to do so by 2000.[3] Some of these options would have included the whole Cherwell Valley line and the Banbury–Birmingham section of what is now the Chiltern Main Line plus the Coventry to Leamington line.[3] The 1979–90 Conservative governments that succeeded the 1976–79 Labour government did not implement the proposal.

Under plans for the Great Western Electrification project announced in July 2009, the Cherwell Valley line was due to be electrified from Didcot as far as Oxford.[4] However, delays and cost overruns elsewhere caused this to be deferred indefinitely in 2016.[5]


  1. ^ "Debut trip for new tilting train". BBC News. 29 April 2004.
  2. ^ Miles, Tony (August 2008). "Cross Country stops Tilting". Modern Railways. Vol. 65 no. 719. Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 71. ISSN 0026-8356.
  3. ^ a b Anonymous (Winter 1979). Railway Electrification. British Railways Board (Central Publicity Unit). pp. 0–2, 8.
  4. ^ "Rail Electrification" (PDF). Britain's Transport Infrastructure. Department for Transport. July 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 August 2009.
  5. ^