PLANS to introduce a tram line at the former Grove rail station sparked debate between Wantage and Grove residents.

More than 100 people turned out to voice their thoughts on Oxfordshire County Council plans to reopen Grove Station as a Light Railway line for trams or tram-like trains.

The Wantage Road station closed following the Beeching Report in the 1960s, and the council hopes that by running a Light Railway line alongside the main track, it will be able to connect the town to the rest of Oxfordshire.

Faringdon town councillor Alex Meredith said at the meeting on Wednesday: “I have been told by the Department of Transport that one of the main reasons Grove Station is still closed is that Oxfordshire County Council has not dedicated suitable resources to it.

“Network Rail seems to be the company that rules the transport in this area.

“People are getting really fed up with having companies like Network Rail overruling elected and democratic officials and being allowed to get away with it.”

The 33-year-old added: “We don’t see our county councillors pushing hard enough to get National Rail to do this.”

Engineer Stephen Radford, from Wantage, said: “If it’s going to run alongside the railway then unless they make the bridges big enough it won’t really work.”

Speaking at The Beacon, county council leader Ian Hudspeth denied that the council had abandoned plans to reopen the station.He said: “We’ve done our best to ensure the land for such a station remains preserved.

“But Network Rail are saying they don’t want trains stopping there because it would have too much of an effect on other trains along the network. We are reliant on the rail industry. We can carry on banging our heads against a brick wall, but we should also think about other options.

“We really need to try to find an alternative solution.”

Graham Banks from Uffington agreed. The 70-year-old said: “You can’t run a high-speed rail and stop every five minutes.

“Anyone who thinks they are going to get Grove Station open is in cuckoo land.’’ Network Rail spokeswoman Sam Kelly said: “Our funding for 2014-19 was confirmed by the regulator earlier this year and does not include funds for a new station at Wantage.

“However, a business case for this scheme could be developed by a third party. Any scheme would need to demonstrate a solid business case and represent good value for money.”

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