Newbury in Oxford could have a futuristic hydrogen bus line


A new ‘science highway’ could be created in Berkshire, providing a direct transport link between Oxford and Newbury.

West Berkshire Council is working with Oxfordshire Councils on the proposal for a new bus route, an idea pioneered by Newbury MP Laura Farris.

She says the plan, which would include the country’s very first hydrogen-powered bus, will require around £ 150,000 from West Berkshire, a match funded by the Oxfordshire authorities.

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“Wouldn’t it be great if Newbury could lead the way in this area,” she said.

She wants the bus line to connect the two centers, with Harwell Science Park at the center of the plans.

The 700-acre Harwell Park near Didcot is home to around 200 science and technology organizations, including £ 2 billion of UK ‘national open access laboratories’ shared by scientists from the UK and overseas.

It is also home to many companies in the UK space sector.

“We still talk about the M4 corridor as our own ‘Silicon Valley’, but we still look east-west,” she added.

“This is a science highway that runs from Newbury and Oxford, specifically Harwell Science Park.

“A lot of Newbury people are already working there, and there will be 10,000 more jobs there – but the only way to get there from here is by train, via Reading or by car.”

Scrapped Oxford-Cambridge Motorway (Ox-Cam)

The campaign comes just months after the government put aside plans for an express road link between Oxford and Cambridge.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced in March the cancellation of the Oxford-Cambridge Freeway (Ox-Cam), after analysis confirmed that the proposed project was not profitable.

Highways England had developed potential options for a road link between Oxford and Milton Keynes.

However, after working closely with local partners since 2014, a recent analysis shows that the benefits that the road would bring are outweighed by the costs associated with the project.

The idea that the proposed motorway connecting the current A34 near Oxford to the A14 near Cambridge will be designated the A34 has no official status.

“I have launched a campaign to create a bus route between Newbury and Oxford with stops at Harwell Science Park, Didcot, Milton Business Park and Abingdon en route,” added Ms Farris.

“I know there used to be a train line that connected the two towns directly, and later a bus line that connected Newbury and Didcot. The last recording I could find was from 2004.

“I worked with West Berkshire Council, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council to review the route, funding arrangements and feasibility.

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“There is an important environmental aspect to this campaign. It will be the only form of public transport that connects Newbury directly to towns in the north, so an important driver in getting people out of their cars.

“It’s also possible that the bus line uses hydrogen buses – and I’ve started conversations with the Department of Transportation to look into that. “

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