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New bus service between Newbury and Harwell

Harwell Campus Roadshow event launches major new Thames Travel bus link

Posted by: Communications team on 11 July 2023 18:42
2023-Newbury to Harwell Bus Service

Thames Travel has enhanced its existing partnership with Harwell Campus, the UK's leading science and innovation campus, by launching a new bus service linking it with Didcot Railway station and Newbury.  

The new route is a rare example of a 'cross-border' bus service connecting Oxfordshire with West Berkshire. It is funded by Oxfordshire County Council and West Berkshire District Council, via central government Bus Service Improvement Plan funding.

Ultra-low emission Euro 6 buses will serve the new route and are branded in distinctive green Harwell Campus livery to celebrate the partnership with Thames Travel. It was launched in Harwell's "Green Week" to celebrate the progress of the partnership in encouraging people to use active modes of travel to commute, improving traffic congestion, air quality and sustainability.

The new service will operate every hour on Mondays to Saturdays and forms part of a combined 15-minute frequency service between Didcot Railway station and the campus. In further good news for passengers, single adult fares on the new service will be covered by the government's current £2 fare cap on single adult journeys.

The new route launches on 23 July 2023, and follows a roadshow last week (Thursday 6 July) at Harwell Campus to celebrate the launch of the service which was attended by local MPs and county councillors alongside senior representatives from Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire County Council, West Berkshire District Council and Thames Travel.

The new service builds on the partnership between Harwell Campus and Thames Travel which began in 2015 with the launch of more frequent buses between Didcot Railway Station and the Campus. In 2019, the partnership was expanded with Thames Travel launching its Science Transit Shuttle ST1 Service, connecting key sites in Oxford to the Campus via a partnership between the bus operator, The University of Oxford and the Science & Technologies Facilities Council (STFC). Earlier this year, Harwell Campus introduced enhanced bus travel discounts for employees at the site to further encourage people to use active travel.

Luke Marion, Thames Travel Managing Director, said:

"I'm proud Thames Travel has been selected to operate this important new cross-border route bringing significant economic and environmental benefits to the region.  

"It is the next step in our continued strategy to improve connectivity between Oxford and key employment sites in south Oxfordshire to improve congestion, air quality and sustainability. Cross-border services are difficult to achieve and this new route demonstrates what can be done when key stakeholders work together under the Government's National Bus Strategy. I hope to see more cases like this across the UK."

Stuart Grant, Chief Executive of Harwell Campus, said:

"Together with our partners the Science and Technology Facilities Council, we're delighted to be able to support Thames Travel with the introduction of a new route from Newbury to Harwell Campus. We're passionate about finding sustainable and tangible ways that we can improve connectivity and the new route will not only reduce congestion, but will further improve the accessibility of Harwell Campus for innovators and scientists across the region."

Cllr Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said:

"This new service is a direct result of Oxfordshire County Council being granted £12.7m of government funding for our Bus Service Improvement Plan, to support new rural routes and a host of other measures.  

"Effective public transport is one of this council's priorities and this demonstrates our commitment to encouraging more people to use the bus." 

Cllr Lee Dillon, Leader of West Berkshire Council, expressed his delight at the launch of this long awaited bus service, saying:

"Before this bus service was launched, anyone travelling from Newbury to Harwell Business Park had to either go direct by car / taxi or go on a rather lengthy public transport journey consisting of a train journey to Reading, then a train to Didcot and then a bus from here to the campus.  This all took about 90 minutes on a good day.  Now, with this new bus service, the travel time is reduced to around 30 minutes which is fantastic! 

"This is all great news for bus travel in West Berkshire and Oxfordshire to encourage more commuters and leisure users to use the service. I hope this will open up more opportunities for residents to take up jobs and apprenticeships that are available here at the Harwell Business Park as well as Newbury, Didcot, Wantage and Oxford."

David Johnston, MP for Wantage and Didcot, said:

"This new bus service will benefit local people in Didcot and the great companies at Harwell Campus - boosting connectivity across counties and helping to cut emissions. It is also great news that everyone using this service will benefit from cheaper journeys thanks to the Government extending the £2 bus fare cap to October." 

Laura Farris, MP for Newbury, said: 

"I am absolutely delighted about the launch of the new Newbury - Harwell - Didcot - bus route. This marks the culmination of my two-year campaign, in which I have worked with the Department of Transport, Oxfordshire County Council, West Berkshire Council, Reading buses and the Department of Transport to create a public bus route up the A34. Such a bus route existed for many years but was sadly abandoned in around 2004.

"With 10,000 new jobs coming to Harwell Campus in the next few years, and more and more Newbury residents working in both Harwell and Didcot, the case for a bus route was overwhelming.  I am grateful to all the residents of Newbury who have filled in one of my surveys or written to me about this campaign. This victory means that you will now have a quick, direct and cheap route up the A34 which is much more environmentally friendly by taking people out of their cars."

Roads Minister, Richard Holden, said: 

"People up and down the country deserve a modern, reliable, and affordable public transport system. That is why we have provided Oxfordshire County Council with almost £13 million to boost its bus services.   

"Supporting Go-Ahead with providing the new Thames Travel bus link is great for local residents, who will now be able to get around more easily and make the most of the fantastic work and research opportunities Harwell Campus has to offer."

The new buses have free on-board Wi-Fi, next stop announcements and USB charging points. The new timetable can be found here: https://images-oxfordbus.passenger-website.com/downloads/Harwell%20July%202023%20X34%20X35%20web_1.pdf

Harwell Campus is the UK's leading science and innovation hub, hosting 240 public and private sector organisations employing over 6,000 people.  

Thames Travel is part of Go-Ahead's Oxford Bus Group which also includes Oxford Bus Company, Pulhams Coaches, Carousel Buses and CitySightseeing Oxford.  

Last modified: 11 July 2023 19:20

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