Oxford Metro

Before i start, i'd like to point out Adam Evans' incomparably more sound Oxford Metro proposal, based on old (pre-Beeching) lines and stations around Oxford. Top work!


Oxford is a major British city, with significant retail, tourist and commuter traffic, but with a transport system straight out of the 15th century. With up to 30 000 000 new homes needed in the south-east by 2020, the problem can only get worse. What Oxford needs is a railway - the Oxford Metro.

Okay, so Oxford is actually a tiny city, with one of the best bus networks in the country, and it needs a railway like it needs a hole in the Headington Road, and couldn't afford one anyway, and if it did get one, it'd be a tram, not a proper railway (not that i'm proposing a proper railway); i don't make any claims that the opinions expressed in these pages are well thought-out or anything. Christ.

The model for the Oxford Metro is the Docklands Light Railway: this is essentially two perpendicular lines, one north-south and one east-west, forming a cross, with the branches stretching out two miles from the crossing. It has 34 stations, including one internal interchange, with with the stations being ludicrously close on the Isle of Dogs (West India Quay is only 200 m from Canary Wharf) and further apart at the ends of the lines (especially on the way to Bank). Oxford covers a slightly larger area, but is much less dense; we will plan for a similar number of stations, and a similar density pattern.

Oxford is organised around a neat cross of roads: the Woodstock/Banbury roads to the north, the Headington road to the east, the Abingdon road to the south and the Botley road to the west. This immediately suggests a general layout for the metro: again like the DLR, a pair of perpendicular lines, one north-south and one east-west. This is not to say that the lines will simply follow the roads; the routes are chosen to maximise their usefulness. For example, the northern branch bounces back and forth between the Woodstock and Banbury roads, the eastern branch starts off heading down Cowley Road and then cuts up under South Park to the Headington Road and the southern branch, on reaching the ring road, swings to the east to serve Cowley.

For the purpose of transport integration, the lines will serve all the existing transport hubs in Oxford: the railway station, Gloucester Green coach station, the five Park and Ride sites and (perhaps) the airport (yes, Oxford has an airport - it's in Kidlington).

The centre of the network must clearly be Carfax, the ultimate junction of the great roads (or their logical extensions into the city centre) and traditional centre of the city; here, the two lines will cross, at the network's only interchange station. This should be built in a giant cavern underneath Cornmarket, with entrances at Carfax and the Broad Street junction (and possibly in the basement of Boswell's). The crossing should in fact be a pair of junctions, with the Botley and North branches merging at the Broad Street end, and the Headington and Cowley branches merging at the Carfax end.

Thus, we have a network consisting of a central station, Carfax, with four branches radiating from it: Headington, Cowley, Botley and North (the north end of Oxford being a patchwork of townships with no single one dominant; Wolvercote, Sunnymead & Cutteslowe would be the shortest candidate name).

Note that the station names are mostly quite random (often the names of cross streets, in the Northern Line style); local people would probably be able to pick much better ones.

North Branch

Headington Branch

Cowley Branch

Botley Branch

Engineering Considerations

In engineering terms, the metro will be able to use normal surface corridors in some areas, where land can be obtained for the project. However, in the much of the middle of town, this will not be an option, and so the line will have to proceed in tunnel (on-street running is not an option, as firstly, Oxford's streets are already overcrowded and secondly, this would make the scheme a tram); much of the route will follow major roads, so cut-and-cover can be used here. Elevated tracks should also be considered in places.

There are bound to be some disused or convertible railway tracks around. Metro tracks can be built alongside heavy rail tracks, too.

Signalling really ought to use some modern stuff like moving-block whatnot. Controlled by a HUGE COMPUTAR in the crypt of the Sunken Cathedral.

If you couldn't get the readies together to build this all in one fell swoop, you'd start with the Barton - Headington line, from Seacourt to Thornhill; this is the shortest path between two Park and Rides, and takes in the rail and coach stations, the High Street, Brookes and most of the local stops on the coach route to London. After that, you'd build the North branch as far as Water Eaton, then the Cowley branch as far as Redbridge, then extend the Cowley branch to The Slade, then extend the Botley branch to Cumnor, then extend the North branch to the airport.

Other Stuff

The logo would probably be a big dark blue capital M (one of the ones where the middle stroke reaches all the way down) with the holes between the verticals shaped a bit like spires. Or possibly a bull on rails. Or something.

Man, this would kick so much arse.