Rail campaigners are urging Network Rail to speed up vital improvements to Stratford station as the company revealed its plans for the station have ‘significantly increased in scale’.
The announcement, made by Network Rail earlier this month, is potentially great news for Stratford but there are calls for the company to get a move on with the work.
Back in 2015 a project to invest around £750,000 in a new café, waiting room, retail area and other facilities was announced but, despite conformation that construction was due to start in summer 2018, nothing happened.
This month a spokesperson for Network Rail said: “We are currently reviewing tenders from contractors for the station modernisation at Stratford-upon-Avon – the improvements will include the rebuilding of the booking hall, an improved passenger seating area and retail facilities.
“While the tender process is ongoing we are unable to confirm when the work will begin. However, the plans have significantly increased in scale since they were first announced in 2015. We will confirm when the project will start as soon as we can.”
Cllr Tony Jefferson, leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council, added: “Any redevelopment and update of Stratford Railway Station is more than welcome. As a key gateway into the town, the station’s facilities and appearance provide a crucial first impression of Stratford-upon-Avon.”
Although the improvements mentioned sound broadly similar to what was first announced, investment in the site is now likely to be considerably more than first thought.
In addition to the new booking hall, customer seating area and retail facilities, it is believed the station will also be reconfigured and will feature new glazed areas.
It is hoped the improvements could boost the town’s economy while addressing well-known problems with the facility.
While the extra investment has been welcomed, there is some frustration that commuters are having to wait so long for action.
Rail campaigner Fraser Pithie, of the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group, said: “It is imperative that what was first envisaged for the station is delivered because that’s what Stratford was promised three years ago, if they want to make even more significant improvement then that’s great, but as a minimum what was first promised should be delivered.
“We need to start seeing some progress on this, it’s not the community’s fault that this has taken so long, we’ve been pushing for this for three years.”
Cllr Jenny Fradgley, who helped form The Friends of Stratford Station, which has been working to improve the appearance of the station, said: “I would certainly welcome any investment into the station, but I don’t want this to keep pushing back the start date, we don’t want to end up with a Kenilworth situation.
“One of the things we are desperate for at Stratford station is a proper disabled toilet, I’ve been with people who have been in tears after arriving from a long journey to find there are no proper toilets for them.
“I think Stratford station is a very efficient little station and the staff there are always very helpful, but it is the station that it is. It is adequate but we’ve always had this carrot in front of us that it is on track for an upgrade.
“I have been following developments at Stratford station on a regular basis with Warwickshire County Council. I had been under the impression that works could start early this year but we will have to wait and see.”
One million journeys are made to and from Stratford station every year and it is hoped the improvement project will create a modern gateway to the town.
Currently the number of people visiting Stratford by train is still well below the national average.
Funds for the project will come from Warwickshire County Council and the Department for Transport, though the final amount set to be invested in the scheme has yet to be revealed.