In the Wokingham District Local Plan 1996 - 2006 Policy WT 12: Additional Railway Stations states that: The Council will seek the provision of additional railway stations at Thames Valley Park, and other locations that can serve development and reduce car usage without resulting in net environmental degradation . Interchange facilities and car and cycle parking will be provided as appropriate to each location. Why was the principle of that policy dropped from WBC's 2010 Core Strategy?
In the Wokingham District Local Plan 1996 - 2006 Policy WT 12: Additional Railway Stations states that: The Council will seek the provision of additional railway stations at Thames Valley Park, and other locations that can serve development and reduce car usage without resulting in net environmental degradation. Interchange facilities and car and cycle parking will be provided as appropriate to each location. Why was the principle of that policy dropped from WBC's 2010 Core Strategy?
I remember the Thames Valley Park station issue from when I did this role previously and I had various discussions with Mark Moon at the time. As I think you are aware, it was Network Rail that decided that they didn’t want another stop either too close to Reading or between Reading and Twyford so, unfortunately, we were unable to get the station in place. However, there is a new station at Green Park which will be available next year and, if Grazeley is chosen as a Local Plan update site, there will be a station at Grazeley. There is nothing that I am aware of on the line through Wokingham to London or Guildford, nor is there anything on the line from Reading to Paddington.
That is the situation as far as stations are concerned. In connection with interchange and modal shift I would direct you to CP 6 and CP 10 in the 2010 Core Strategy which deals with the principles around interchange and modal shift. We are also undertaking work in relation to a potential park and ride at Coppid Beech. We have also been working on a bridge over the canal at Reading which I believe has had some problems with planning but would, in principle, provide a quicker bus service from Thames Valley Park and the Waterside Centre into Reading.
In Shinfield there are plans for round-robin bus services connecting the Shinfield Development into Reading and there have been improved bus services from Arborfield to Reading and also through to the new Lexicon development in Bracknell. I think we are providing and looking to provide opportunities for modal shift as well as new rail facilities where we can.
I was particularly interested, as I am sure you are aware, about the proposal for a station at Thames Valley Park which appears to have disappeared. You suggested that it couldn’t have happened because there was no room on the rail network at that time for trains to stop in the business park even though this was part of the S106 agreement, as I understand, with Oracle, to provide a station. I would be interested to know where that money actually went as it certainly didn’t go on the station. However, the reason I am asking the question is that, surely, the introduction of electrification together with the National Digital Railway Strategy (intended to provide more space on rail networks) have made stopping trains at a station in Thames Valley Park a possibility which should be properly investigated?
As you say, I recall the Thames Valley Park station, the saga around it, and the £15m which was supposedly spent on it. I have no idea whether the Council even received it, so I can’t help you in connection with that one. I do not think, at present, that there are any plans from the rail operator or Network Rail in favour of a new station at Thames Valley Park. I have not heard of any discussions around this so I would suggest that it is not likely any time soon. I will ask the question as I talk to the rail operators and will let you know if I hear anything positive, but I will have to take it on that basis.