STAGECOACH has announced that its 31 and X30 services from Wantage to Oxford will be rebranded as Stagecoach Gold S8 and Gold S9 with new timetables in place from Sunday.

Stagecoach S8 will replace service 31 between Wantage, Grove, Marcham, Abingdon and Oxford. To meet public requests for a service to the west of Letcombe Brook, the Gold S8 will be routed from Wantage Market Place via Mill Street, Denchworth Road, Cane Lane and Brereton Drive,then follow the current route to Oxford.

Stagecoach Gold S9 will replace service X30 and will follow the current route through Grove via Main Street.

The morning commuter X30 journey run with an Oxford Tube coach will continue, renumbered S9 and, following customer requests, take a more direct route into Oxford.

Service 34 will continue with two journeys a day to and from Harwell Campus, with minor changes to timings to improve reliability.

Bus stops in Oxford City Centre for services S8 (formerly service 31) and S9 (formerly service X30) will not change: both services will start from St Aldate’s.

The S8 will then pick up at the police station.

The S9 service, meanwhile, will pick up at Speedwell Street, then New Road, outside County Hall.

The changes follow Stagecoach’s consultation with customers earlier this year and the arrival of the brand new Stagecoach Gold double deck buses at a cost of £2.1m in January.

The company said customers expressed a desire for more comfortable double deck buses on all trips to ensure passengers get a seat, more early and late buses and timetable changes to improve punctuality in the face of worsening traffic congestion.

Commenting on the new timetables, Stagecoach managing director Martin Sutton said: "In making these changes to our Wantage and Grove services, we have tried to take into account as many of the comments and feedback we received earlier in the year.

"The new services have already been upgraded with new Stagecoach Gold buses with more comfortable seating, improved heating and ventilation systems, complimentary WiFi and USB charging facilities.

"We will now service both east and west of Letcombe Brook to give residents more choice.

"We wanted to make the improvements in response to the increase in demand for buses and as part of a broader plan to increase the numbers of buses serving Wantage and Grove as new housing developments progress."