Cherwell Valley Line

Cherwell Valley Line

Appleford railway station
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Oxfordshire,
South East England
Stations 7
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) CrossCountry
Great Western Railway
Rolling stock Class 43 "High Speed Train"
Class 165 "Turbo"
Class 166 "Turbo Express"
Class 180 "Adelante"
Class 220 "Voyager"
Class 221 "Super Voyager"
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

Cherwell Valley Line

Chiltern Main Line to Leamington Spa
34 Banbury
former Verney Junction Branch
M40 motorway
30½ Kings Sutton
former Banbury and Cheltenham Direct Railway
M40 motorway

29 Aynho Junction
Chiltern Main Line to Bicester North
Fritwell & Somerton

Oxford Canal
23⅛ Heyford
19½ Tackley


former Shipton cement works

former Blenheim & Woodstock branch line

Oxford Canal
former Buckinghamshire Junction Railway Right arrow
13¼ Left arrow Cotswold Line to Worcester

Duke's Cut
A34 Oxford Western Bypass (Wolvercote Viaduct)
Wolvercot Platform
11⅜ Oxford North Junction: Oxford to Bicester Line
Sheepwash Channel
10⅜ Oxford
Former gas works

Osney Railway Bridge over River Thames
Oxford (Grandpont) station

Hinksey Halt
former Millstream Junction
Abingdon Road Halt
A423 Oxford Southern Bypass
8 Kennington Jct: Mini factory Wycombe Railway
Abingdon Junction
Abingdon Jct with former Abingdon Railway
Nuneham Railway Bridge over River Thames
Culham Cutting
3 Culham
Appleford Railway Bridge over River Thames
2 Appleford
Gravel pits
Didcot North Junction

Didcot Railway Centre

0 Didcot Parkwayon GW Main Line
(Left arrow Swindon  Reading Right arrow)

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

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.

River Thames

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.[2] 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.[2] 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 will be electrified from Didcot as far as Oxford.[3]


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cherwell Valley Line.
  1. "Debut trip for new tilting train". BBC News. 29 April 2004.
  2. 1 2 Anonymous (Winter 1979). Railway Electrification. British Railways Board (Central Publicity Unit). pp. 0–2, 8.
  3. "Rail Electrification" (PDF). Britain’s Transport Infrastructure. Department for Transport. July 2009.
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