Plans for a new station in Corsham have taken another step forward after Wiltshire Council, in partnership with Corsham Town Council, Michelle Donelan MP and other local stakeholders, submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) to the Department for Transport (DfT).
The SOBC looks to address the key problems and opportunities identified by the station project, including:
- To improve transport connectivity to key destinations and ensure the local community has better access to jobs, services and opportunities.
- To support the economic growth of Corsham and the wider region.
- To increase the share of journeys taken by public transport and reduce reliance on cars.
- To support Wiltshire Council to reach its 2030 net zero ambition.
- To deliver transport that is affordable and financially sustainable.
Preliminary assessments show that site of the original Corsham Station site is the best location for the new station, and four train service options have been considered: an hourly service between Bristol and Oxford; an hourly service between Bristol and London Paddington; a combination of the first two options; and two services per hour between Bristol and Oxford.
The SOBC includes an economic assessment for each of the four service options that shows that all of the options generate significant levels of demand, benefits and revenue.
The assessment also takes account of the impact on existing through passengers, whose journey times would be extended by an additional stop at a new Corsham Station. Stopping either one or, if available, both of the proposed Bristol-Oxford services provides significant benefits and revenue, and represents very high value for money. However, stopping the London Paddington service at Corsham represents lower value for money.
The proposed Bristol-Oxford service is currently being developed by Network Rail and GWR, and while it is not yet a committed service, its development is relatively advanced and carries widespread rail industry and stakeholder support.
Cllr Dr Mark McClelland, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “This submission represents the exciting next step for Corsham Station, and while building the station may be a long way down the track, the project is progressing well and we hope our plans move through the next stages of the process with our partners in a timely manner.
“We have committed to having vibrant, well-connected communities as part of our Business Plan, and a new station in Corsham would bring prosperity, jobs and economic growth for both the town and the surrounding area.
“We’ve worked closely with Corsham Town Council, Michelle Donelan MP and local partners throughout this project, and we’ll continue to do so as we look to secure this station to boost both the town of Corsham and the wider Wiltshire economy.”
Cllr Steve Abbott, Corsham Town Council Chairman, said: “The Town Council is delighted that the business case has been submitted to the Department for Transport and we continue to support the work to achieve a new rail station for Corsham.
“Our thanks go to everybody who completed our recent public survey, which received over 1,500 responses. We also appreciate the many letters of support received from local stakeholders. The case for the station is looking very positive and we eagerly await the outcome, which is expected in the early part of 2023.”
Michelle Donelan MP said: “As the lead sponsoring MP for a train station at Corsham, I have been busy playing a key role in helping submit the Strategic Online Business Case (SOBC) which will now be considered by the Department for Transport.
“I have been pushing and pushing for the re-opening of Corsham station since before I was elected and I helped secure the £50,000 of funding to do this work. I have been speaking to our neighbouring MPs and have asked them to write in with their support, as a station would have benefits for the whole area.
“I have written to the new Rail Minister at the Department for Transport to request a meeting and I will be setting out our case for a station to him. Our case for a station is very strong and I will keep on banging the drum for Corsham station at every opportunity.”
The SOBC is just one step on a long journey ahead before the station can be built. If the project passes the SOBC stage, it would typically move to the Outline Business Case (OBC) stage, which looks in more detail at the design, planning, access, operational feasibility and demand forecasting. After that, the final stage is the Full Business Case (FBC). If the project passes all these key stages in a timely manner, it is estimated that work to build the new station could begin in 2026, and would be completed and operational by 2028.