Introducing the Oxfordshire Plan 2050

Transport and connectivity context

24 Oxfordshire sits on the busy road and rail transport corridor between the south coast ports, the Midlands and the North. It benefits from transport connections to London and the West Midlands via the M40 and close proximity to the M4 providing connections to the West and London. Many of Oxfordshire's roads are at or approaching capacity at peak times. The M40 carries the most traffic, particularly on the stretch between junctions 9 and 10, which links the A34 via the A43 to the M1 carrying over 100,000 vehicles per day. The A34 carries up to 70,000 vehicles per day, including a large proportion of lorries. The county relies heavily on the A34 for local journeys and the route forms part of the Oxford ring road. The A34 is particularly vulnerable to disruption, as there is a lack of alternative North-South routes for journeys both within and through the county. The A40 is a major through route linking Gloucester and London and intersects with three key radial routes to the North of Oxford, where it forms part of Oxford's ring road. The route suffers from serious delays between Witney and Oxford due to the volume of through traffic, freight movements and commuter traffic which uses the route. The A420 is another important principal route running through our county, linking Oxford with Swindon, which is congested in some areas at peak times.

25 The Oxford-Cambridge Expressway linking Oxfordshire to Milton Keynes and onto Cambridgeshire is likely to further increase demand for through travel, so a long-term solution to congestion on the A34 is important. The route of the OxCam Expressway will have implications for local highway conditions as well as shaping the spatial strategy for the Oxfordshire Plan.

26 Within Oxford there is a very comprehensive bus network and this represents the mode of choice for 48% of people travelling to the city centre however, public transport links within the eastern arc of the city, is not so comprehensive. There is a network of frequent bus services linking the county's towns with Oxford although bus provision linking smaller rural settlements to urban areas is very limited. With limited bus priority measures into Oxford, the reliability of inter-urban bus routes are affected by traffic congestion and so often the simpler choice for residents of the towns and rural areas and therefore the preference, is to travel by car. This is partially mitigated by the very popular Park & Ride schemes on the edge of Oxford, which have been developed since the 1970s in conjunction with restrictions on access to the city centre.

27 The rail network is very well used and provides frequent connections between several of Oxfordshire's main towns and beyond to London, Birmingham and Bristol. Recently the new link from Oxford Parkway to Marylebone opened up an alternative mainline link with London. A significant level of freight also passes through the county on route to the South coast ports. The network is operating close to capacity, so significant work to signals and dualling of lines is required increase it. London Oxford Airport located at Kidlington offers primary regional and business aviation services.

28 Oxford is well known for its high levels of cycling and there are some cycle connections between other towns and areas of employment but this is far from comprehensive. Outside the city walking and cycling are not always seen as feasible or desirable modes of travel especially for commuting despite the health and environmental benefits they offer.

29 Localised effects are felt from emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), which cause respiratory illness. Air quality is regularly monitored at many locations across Oxfordshire. At some locations air quality is at levels where legal intervention is required by Local Authorities. There are currently 13 AQMAs in Oxfordshire, where the annual mean objective for nitrogen dioxide is being exceeded (four in Cherwell, one covering the whole of Oxford city, three in South Oxfordshire, three in Vale of White Horse and two in West Oxfordshire). There are also Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in Oxfordshire which are particularly vulnerable to air pollution. Rail electrification should improve air quality adjacent to rail lines and around stations.

30 Oxfordshire County Council's Local Transport Plan 4 aimed to ensure that the county's transport systems were fit to support population and economic growth. It is anticipated that the LTP will be reviewed and updated in line with the Oxfordshire Plan.

31 The Oxfordshire County Council led programme for improving broadband infrastructure has already achieved its December 2017 target of achieving 95% of premises having access to superfast broadband, and is set to out-turn 97% coverage by 2019. A barometer of how important this is to Oxfordshire is evidenced by very high adoption of fibre broadband in the county, where 50% of premises enabled by the Better Broadband programme have already taken up new fibre services. Early planning is now underway to find solutions for the remaining very rural premises, focussing on enhancing the fibre footprint to reach agricultural businesses, as well as enhancing the availability of cost effective very high speed fibre services for businesses and public sector across the county. Strategic convergence of mobile and fixed data networks is expected to develop commercially over the next five to ten years, as 5G mobile data standards are confirmed.