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28 January 2016

Corsham Railway Station feasibility study

There is a case for building a railway station in Corsham, according to a new report, but its viability would be reliant on securing a sustainable train service.

Last year, Wiltshire Council commissioned Atkins to carry out initial feasibility work on a possible station in the town.

The main findings include:

  • There is an identified market for a rail station at Corsham particularly in relation to journeys to and from Bath and Bristol
  • Forecasts indicate Corsham station could carry up to 400,000 passengers per year and that future development plans would be expected to further increase this number
  • A  railway station at Royal Wootton Bassett would generate up to a further 330,000 passengers per year
  • Initial analysis indicates it could be viable to introduce a new hourly train service between Bristol and Swindon to serve a new Corsham Station, with possible extensions to Oxford or Cardiff. (Four possible service options have been tested: a new service from Bristol Temple Meads to Swindon; a new service from Bristol Temple Meads to Oxford; a new service from Cardiff Central to Swindon; and an extension of the MetroWest service from Bath Spa to Chippenham).
  • The main obstacle to a Corsham railway station is the provision of a suitable and viable train service:
  • A  regular direct London service is not considered to be feasible primarily due to incompatibility with wider rail industry goals to improve the quality of intercity services on the Great Western mainline
  • For each of the four train service options considered, the estimated annual operating costs exceed the forecast annual revenue generated (to at least 2033/34)
  • The addition of stops at Corsham and Royal Wootton Bassett significantly improves the revenue generation of each train service option and in particular the Bristol to Oxford service option (although there is still the requirement for an initial eight year service subsidy of around £1.8m).
  • Consideration of other economic benefits, such as journey time benefits and environmental benefits, may enhance the overall case for each service option.

The report suggests the next steps should be to focus on demonstrating a suitable service could operate to serve Corsham station (and potentially a Royal Wootton Basset station) through engagement with key partners and further detailed analysis.

Philip Whitehead, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "The study provides a robust and up-to-date analysis of the case for a Corsham Station. While it is clear that a station at Corsham would be beneficial and could be operationally viable, it is also clear that this can only be achieved when a suitable train service has been secured.

"We will now look to work with key partners such as Network Rail, Great Western Railway, the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and relevant neighbouring local authorities and local enterprise partnerships to gauge their support for a suitable train service. It should be noted, however, that this is likely to be a challenging and protracted process."

The full report is still being examined and will be released in due course.

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