SWINDON and Oxford are to be a match made in Heaven as discussions continue to wed the two historic hubs closer together.

Following Swindon Borough Council leader David Renard’s appeal to the government last week, in which he urged transport secretary Chris Grayling to improve links between Oxford and Swindon, Bob Price, the leader of Oxford City Council, has come out in support of the plans, much to the delight of councillors in Swindon.

Citing the New Eastern Villages development as the basis for a closer relationship, he told the Oxford Mail: “There’s a very big plan for expanding Swindon to the east, and for people living there it would be relatively easy to get to work in Harwell or Culham if the transport links are good.

“These are also homes from which people might drive to work in Oxford, so the A420 and rail becomes particularly important.

“It might be that they are formally recognised as part of the wider corridor but we will certainly continue to bring them into the discussions.”

Discussions are framed around a new commuter rail service linking Oxford and Swindon via Grove, as well as improvements to the A420 and A34.

At present, rail passengers have to change at Didcot when travelling between the two destinations.

Last week, the government published its ‘connecting people’ report, setting out a strategic vision for the future of rail.

In it, they confirmed that investment would be forthcoming that would restore a direct train service from Oxford to Cambridge.

But Coun Renard urged the transport secretary to go a step further and look at including Swindon in the proposals.

He wrote: “We would like you to consider how extending this investment to include the rail corridor to Swindon would be a significant boost to a wide range of government policies.

“As you may be aware, Swindon and Norwich are also associated with the the wider Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford corridor.

“Swindon Borough Council made a formal submission to the National Infrastructure Commission with three proposals for investment in improving rail links between Oxford and Swindon that would complement the government’s policies on house building, industry, and economic development.”

Coun Renard welcomed the positive moves made by his opposite number and stressed the importance of improving the town’s transport links with its neighbours.

He said: “I appreciate the support Swindon has received from the Leader of Oxford City Council and other council leaders on this and other shared issues.

“Swindon’s economy is connected primarily to London, the M4 corridor, Heathrow and, not least, Oxford and beyond.

“Therefore, improving our town’s connections to Oxford by both rail and road is crucial for our businesses and our continued success as great place to do business.

"We are working with neighbouring authorities and other partners to explore options on the best way to achieve this.”