© OpenStreetMap contributors | OpenStreetMap copyright notice | View context mapIn common with the proposed stations at Corsham and Royal Wootton Bassett, a major obstacle is the absence of a stopping service between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington.
Network Rail has prioritised the provision of intercity services on the Great Western main lines between Cardiff / Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington. As things stand, there are no medium-term prospects of GWR operating a stopping service between Bath Spa and Didcot Parkway. Such a service, with stops at Corsham, Chippenham, Royal Wootton Bassett Parkway, Swindon, and Wantage Grove, would require an additional pair of tracks between Wootton Bassett Junction and Didcot Parkway, plus increased platform capacity at Swindon.
Plans and proposals for a new railway station to serve Wantage and Grove have been around for several years. In August 2018, Oxfordshire County Council published proposals and a business case for a new station in Grove with the assumption that a new station could open in 2025.
As the station would be situated on a mainline currently served only by intercity services, a new service would be needed to serve the station. The county council’s ambition would be for a new hourly service between Bristol and Oxford which could call at all major existing stations along the route as well as the new station in Grove and new stations in Corsham and Royal Wootton Bassett. It is then hoped that this service could be extended to Milton Keynes or Cambridge once East West Rail is fully completed in 2027.
Six possible locations for a new station were identified with two being shortlisted as good potential locations. One of the two potential locations is very close to the site of the former Wantage Road station, just to the north of the Williams Formula One factory with the second location being further west with access on Denchworth Road. Depending on which site is chosen, the costs of building a new station is estimated to be between £11 million and £13 million.
In the long term, TransWilts CIC would like to see an extended TransWilts route running from Southampton to Oxford via Salisbury, Westbury, Trowbridge, Melksham, Chippenham and Swindon (if Didcot Parkway is to be included, trains will need to reverse there). In this scenario, a stop could be made at Wantage Grove as you can see here:
Wantage and Didcot MP David Johnston said he has been ‘banging the drum’ for the station to reopen since he got elected in December. The Conservative minister added: “We submitted for Grove in for the first round. However, Oxfordshire County Council said they were advised by Department for Transport officials that as it is a more developed, strategic idea, it would stand a better chance of success in a different funding stream that is coming in November.
Source: Wantage railway station will not reopen in Beeching reversal, by Gergana Krasteva, on Oxford Mail website (July 2020).
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