Ambitious plans by Chiltern Railways to run services Between Oxford and London via Bicester have run into trouble after a colony of bats was discovered in Wolvercote Tunnel.
A planning inspector has decreed that works on Wolvercote Tunnel – Chiltern plans to double the line – could prove harmful to the bats.
The rail rodents like to fly up and down the tunnel and roost in it.
The common and soprano pipistrelle, the noctule and the Natterer’s bat are all thought to use the tunnel, which goes under the Wolvercote roundabout on the A40.
The bats tend to hibernate in winter. However rail engineers plan to install a lighting system which will come on and warn the bats of approaching trains.
Chiltern is now working with Natural England to come up with a plan to protect the bat populations.