Oxford Parkway is Oxfordshire’s newest railway station. It is located adjacent to the Water Eaton Park & Ride. The station opened on 26 October 2015 as part of Chiltern Railways’ Evergreen 3 project to link Oxford with London Marylebone via Bicester. Parking in Oxford is expensive. Traffic congestion and parking is a hassle. So driving into the city centre is discouraged.
Park & Ride
Oxford pioneered the park and ride concept where you park at a large car park on the outskirts then catch a bus into the city centre. The Water Eaton Park & Ride (OX2 8HA) was originally developed by the county council as Oxford’s 5th such bus-based facility. Located to the north of the city it can be accessed from the A40 (from Witney and Cheltenham), A4260 (from Kidlington), A34 (from Banbury, Bicester and Northampton) and the M40. The original park & ride at Water Eaton had 758 spaces with its own terminal building and toilet facilities. The dedicated 500 bus to Oxford city centre ran 6 day a week, every 20 minutes.
The four other Park & Ride sites each operated 7 days a week including evenings, and the bus service ran every 15 minutes through the city centre serving more stops. Each bus also connected two park and ride sites on opposite sides of the city via the centre. So Pear Tree was connected with Redbridge and Seacourt connected with Thornhill. If you wanted to travel from Bicester to Oxford on Sundays or on an evening using Park & Ride then you needed to use the 300 bus from Pear Tree instead of the 500 from Water Eaton.
The new station was originally due to be called “Water Eaton Parkway” but Chiltern Railways decided that it would be called Oxford Parkway from the beginning of the train service. Purists will note the station is not actually in Oxford being located in Cherwell District. Nor is it in Kidlington.
However, most people now understand that a Parkway is like a Park & Ride and located on the outskirts of the town, the difference being it is rail rather than bus based. It may make some sense for a bus park & ride to be named after the locality – especially when there are several (as in Oxford). But a rail parkway is named after the town it serves – and who hasn’t heard of Oxford?
Water Eaton would have been confusing – not least because there is another Water Eaton not all that far away near to the East West railway in Bletchley. And near Birmingham there is a similar sounding station at Water Orton. Interestingly, since the station opened the “Water Eaton” name for the Park & Ride has been quietly dropped.
The 500 Park & Ride bus from Oxford Parkway runs through Summertown and the city centre then through to Oxford Station. The service is operated by the Oxford Bus Company. Other buses serve the John Radcliffe and Churchill Hospitals, Headington, Kidlington, Oxford Airport, Woodstock or Banbury. There are two main routes (500, 700) which serve the main Park & Ride terminal plus the 2, 7, 25A, 94, S4, S5 which stop on the main road outside.
Since October 2015 and prior to completion of Chiltern Railways’ Evergreen 3 project, every other 500 bus also doubled as a rail replacement between Oxford Parkway and Oxford. If you bought a train ticket from Bicester Village to Oxford (not Oxford Parkway) it included travel on the bus at no extra charge. You could leave the bus and return from Oxford city centre if you wanted, instead of travelling through to Oxford station. The bus service was also much improved. Previously it ran only every 20 minutes, there was no service after about 7pm or on Sundays and the bus terminated at Magdalen Street by the Randolph Hotel.
Oxford Parkway is rapidly becoming a multi-modal transport hub in its own right and various bus and coach connections exist. The range of accessible destinations has increased and is set to grow further.
Since 12 December 2016, Oxford has a second direct train route to London. The through train service between Oxford and Bicester was also restored. Chiltern Railways operate two trains an hour between London Marylebone, Bicester Village and Oxford. All trains on this route call at Oxford Parkway. A further 800 parking spaces were provided at the station with room for 300 more.
On completion of the rail link to Oxford, the 500 bus was not cut back but was in fact extended in the opposite direction every 30 minutes to serve Woodstock and Blenheim Palace. Not to be outdone, Stagecoach then introduced its own number 7 bus from Oxford – Oxford Parkway – Woodstock in competition with Oxford Bus Company. This also runs to a 30 minute frequency, 7 days a week. A couple of journeys also extend to or from Chipping Norton in the late evening or early morning.
The other main Park & Ride bus is the 700. It connects Kidlington and Oxford Parkway via Summertown with the John Radcliffe Hospital (JR) and Churchill Hospitals. It runs a circular route around Headington also serving Oxford Brookes University, the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Headington shops. Now operated by Stagecoach it runs every 20 minutes from about 0630, Monday to Friday. As such you can get a through ticket from Bicester to say the JR Hospital which is valid on the S5 and 700 services. Last bus back to Oxford Parkway and Kidlington leaves the Churchill Hospital at 1959 and the JR at 2015.
In July 2016 a new Airline coach service between Oxford and Birmingham Airport (IATA code BHX). The BHX Airline coach service stopped at Oxford Parkway and also served Warwick, Birmingham International station (for the National Exhibition Centre and LG Arena) and also the Resorts World Birmingham leisure complex. There were 10 services daily, 7 days a week although the coach to Birmingham has since been discontinued.
The range of connections from Oxford Parkway is set to expand further from about 2023 when Phase 2 of East West Rail opens with trains to Reading, Milton Keynes and Bedford.