As readers know, I’ve been campaigning to see Grove Station reopened since I was elected nearly 4 years ago, having promised I would do so if I was elected. I’ve so far talked about it in the House of Commons more than 20 times; met with ministers repeatedly to push for it; and got it on a list to be considered for government funding for the first time in nearly 50 years.
We were unfortunately unsuccessful at that time, as only 13/89 bids were taken forward, but the Department for Transport was impressed with the strength of the case.
One of the things I did as part of this campaigning was launch a survey of constituents which more than 2,600 people completed, with 98% of those who did so saying they were in favour of it reopening.
Now, I have launched a petition of parliament. This is something MPs can do on matters that are important to their constituents and I’ve done so to keep the pressure up. It is very short – as per the appropriate format – and you can sign it on my website.
With every year the case for the station only grows. The Wantage and Grove area is currently on a growth path to be 59% larger in 2027 than it was in 2017, a huge population increase that needs more infrastructure generally but would benefit significantly from a train station.
I live in Didcot and benefit from its good train links to London, which is important when I have to be in parliament Monday-Thursday and otherwise make journeys to and from at short notice. But when I knock on doors each week one of the things that people who work in London raise with me is the hassle of getting over to Didcot first from where they are – indeed, I knocked on one door recently where the man living there said transport links were one of the reasons his family were moving out of the area altogether.
As well as better connecting the people of Grove and the surrounding area, it would of course be better for the environment. In the survey I ran, 89% of people said they would use their car less if it reopened (and in case you’re wondering, over 90% said they’d prefer it opening to a new bus service).
There are various hurdles in the way – it is not just a matter of plonking down a new station building – and there are always competing priorities (the County Council’s first choice is the Cowley Branch Line rather than Grove Station). But the more people who sign the petition, the stronger the message so please do so by 1st November.