COUNTY taxpayers could end up footing the bill for work to electrify railways through Oxford.

Network Rail is due to start the process of electrification of railways through the county in order to introduce electric trains on some routes, and highways works may have to be carried out by the county council at the same time.

They hope to introduce electric trains on key routes such as the Oxford to London Rail route and the East-West rail route via Bicester to Milton Keynes.

In a report, the council’s environment and economy director Mark Kemp said the council was likely to face costs.

He said: “Depending on the nature of the works required by Network Rail to the bridges these could include raising of the highway, installation of safety barriers, installation of traffic management, including potentially traffic signals, and/or other works to the highway.

“In addition, construction works may require temporary stopping up of the highway, with resultant diversions for traffic.

“Whilst the detail of the programme of bridge works is still being developed, it is clear that there will be resource and financial implications for the county council.

“It is currently unclear whether Network Rail will compensate the county council for any of our staff costs involved or whether they will be paying any commuted sums for any additional highway maintenance liabilities that may arise.”

Network Rail spokesman Chris Denham said: “We’re at an early stage with our plans and in line with Government’s aspirations to reduce the cost of running and maintaining the railway it’s essential the upgrade is delivered efficiently.

“We’re also speaking to councils to understand more about their aspirations for the road bridges in the area so that, wherever possible, our work can be combined and disruption to local communities minimised.”