Wiltshire Council has submitted bids to the Department for Transport (DfT) for funding to develop feasibility studies for two new stations in Wilton and Corsham, as part of the Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund to link the two towns to the national rail network.
The goal in Wilton would be the creation of Wilton Junction, a four-platform station that would be situated adjacent to the park and ride site in the town and would provide a rail link to Salisbury, and access to train services on the West of England line from London Waterloo to Exeter, plus other parts of Wiltshire on the TransWilts line, with two trains stopping at the station each hour. It would also provide sustainable access to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (potentially through improved bus links), Cranborne Chase AONB and National Cycle routes.
The bid has the support of a range of stakeholders, including John Glen MP, Network Rail, South Western Railway, Great Western Railway, TransWilts, Salisbury REDs, Nationwide Rail, Go South Coast and Wilton Town Council.
In Corsham, the proposed new two-platform station would be situated on the Great Western Main Line, with potentially train service links to London Paddington, Bristol, Swindon and Reading, and would help to reduce traffic volumes in the town, as it would provide easy access to/from MOD Corsham, the largest employer in the town.
This bid also has widespread backing, with local MP Michelle Donelan and six other MPs in the region supporting the plans, along with other stakeholders such as Corsham Town Council, Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bath Spa University, Chippenham Town Council and MOD Corsham.
Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: "These are two excellent bids that, if approved and progressed further, will go some way to improving rail links in Wiltshire, and enable more people to travel by train to and from Wilton and Corsham. The Wilton Junction bid would provide easy rail access to Salisbury and the rest of Wiltshire, plus onwards to London, and would also encourage tourists to visit the town, with potentially improved bus links from the station to Stonehenge and Cranborne Chase. It would also help to relieve traffic on the A36 and associated air quality issues in the area. The Corsham bid would also give the town a rail link to London, and would enable easy access to Bath, Bristol and Swindon. Commuters and visitors to the MOD site in the town could also come by train, reducing traffic on local roads.
However, it's important to state that these are early days for each of the bids. If one or both are approved at this stage by the DfT in the next few months, we will be given funding to take the bids to the next step, which will see the preparation of strategic outline business cases. Only then could we start to get an indication of whether the bids will be a success, but we have submitted comprehensive bid applications, so we have high hopes. Both submissions are an excellent example of partnership working, with local council members, council officers, MPs and the town councils all working closely with other stakeholders to create these strong bids. If approved, it's expected that the Wilton project would cost around £20m and would look to be delivered sometime in the period 2024-2029 to fit in with other rail industry initiatives, while the Corsham project would cost in the region of £10m-£15m. Implementation of the station would be dependent on securing a suitable train service, which will involve work with the rail industry and key partners along the line."