We are working with Vale of White Horse to develop plans for a new station in Grove, and jointly commissioned SLC Rail to undertake an initial assessment into the feasibility of a new station.
The outcome of the assessment is included in a ‘Statement of Opinion Report’ and considers both the financial viability of a new station and where it should be best located.
The business case
The initial assessment shows that a new Wantage and Grove station could be viable with a Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) of 2.48 – i.e. a return of £2.48 for every £1 spent on the scheme. This is regarded as ‘high value for money’ by the Department for Transport.
For the assessment, it has been assumed that a station could open in 2025 and could be served by an hourly train service running between Oxford and Bristol. This could generate over 1 million passenger trips per annum, of which 912,000 will be ‘new to rail’ trips and a station could be used by around 1,600 return passengers journeys per day, with forecast revenue of around £10 million per annum by 2030.
The assessment looked at seven potential sites for a new station, and considered each site against a set of key criteria:
- location in relation to planned housing and employment growth;
- relationship with the current railway and need to minimise infrastructure changes;
- connectivity with the existing and future road network, bus links, footpaths and cycle routes;
- land availability for the station, car parking and access road(s); and
- planning and ecological constraints.
It shows there are two shortlisted locations for a new station. The first being alongside the A338 to the north of Williams F1, and the other off Denchworth Road. Both these sites have been included in the proposed safeguarding policies in the Vale of White Horse Local Plan 2031 Part 2.
Indicative train service for Wantage and Grove
A key factor in determining the feasibility of a new station is the train service that will call at the station. At this early stage we cannot say what this will be and further work needs to be done to define the train service and validate its operation and impact on the network.
For the purpose of forecasting demand at a new station, a Bristol to Oxford train service was assumed, with a comparison made between an hourly and a half-hourly frequency, with and without the option of the service being extended to Cambridge once East West Rail is fully completed in 2027.
The assessment has shown that an hourly train service will generate sufficient revenue to cover the cost of operating the service, and should form the ‘core’ service option.
Oxford to Bristol
- One train per hour.
- Stopping at Oxford, Culham, Didcot Parkway, Wantage & Grove*, Swindon, Royal Wootton Bassett*, Chippenham, Corsham*, Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads.
- Approximate journey time from Grove to Oxford - 32 minutes
- Potential to extend service to Milton Keynes or Cambridge
- * Proposed new stations
We will need to work in partnership with the other district and unitary authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships to develop a single, compelling proposal for the Oxford-Bristol rail corridor, based on a shared ambition for a new inter-regional train service and three new stations. An evidenced and costed proposal can then be promoted to the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Great Western Railway, whose support we will need to gain.
There is a need to look in much greater detail at the business case and train service options for the new stations to understand their economic benefits, and to develop the business and operating case for a new train service, which may potentially be linked to other investment such as East West Rail.
We will need to consider capacity constraints on the railway, and some major investment in new infrastructure is likely to be required before a new service can be introduced. Given the scale of the investment needed it is unlikely the infrastructure will be delivered at the same time, or at all, and it is subject to further feasibility to determine whether it is deliverable, affordable and provides good value for money.
A new Wantage and Grove station is subject to further detailed work into its deliverability and affordability, and funding will need to be secured to further develop and deliver the station. For all of these reasons a station is likely to be several years away.