Got a story? Call 01273 544544 or email email@example.com
Plan unveiled for new platform at Redhill Station
4:00pm Wednesday 9th January 2013 in Local News
Rail chiefs have announced plans for a new platform at Redhill station amid huge investment unveiled in the region's railway network.
Network Rail this week earmarked Redhill as “a major interchange on the Brighton mainline,” as it set out its commitment to continuing what it called “the biggest investment in infrastructure since the Victorian era.”
The company said the new platform at Redhill would “improve performance and allow for additional services to run.” Also announced was a new £23 million route operating centre at Three Bridges, which will become fully operational and provide a central signalling function for a large section of the railway across Kent and Sussex. Track and signalling upgrades across the route to cope with the increase in trains and passengers, and a power upgrade to ensure longer trains, providing more capacity and more seats, can be used across the route, were also part of the Sussex route investments package.
Stressing the regional infrastructure boost's aim to cut costs and deliver “more passengers on time than ever before,” Network Rail also warned that “tough decisions need to be made if the industry is to meet these competing challenges.”
The infrastructure package, collectively called the Kent and Sussex strategic business plan, has been submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).
Network Rail said the proposals “will help drive the local, regional and national economy, and help make Britain’s railway one of the most efficient in Europe.”
The company said the investment and improvements on the Sussex and Kent routes will help its plan to “enhance the capacity and capability of the railway in London and the South-east and, working with all train operators on all routes into London, will aim to deliver 20% more seats during peak morning hours.”
It stated: “In numbers that means there will be 539,300 seats into London across all routes during peak morning hours in 2014, but by 2019 there will be an extra 115,000, bringing the total up to 654,300.”
The strategic business plans - one for each route - cover the period from 2014 to 2019, known as control period 5 or CP5.
They map out a programme of investment and projects designed to maintain and improve an ageing infrastructure while reducing the over-all cost of running the rail network.
Passengers on both Kent and Sussex routes will benefit from two of the biggest improvement projects ever seen on the railway in Britain.
More than £6 billion will be spent on the Thameslink programme, which includes the redevelopment of London Bridge station, the single most ambitious and challenging redevelopment of any station in Britain.
Billed as one of the most technically demanding engineering projects ever undertaken on the railway, the station will be completely transformed, while more than 50 million passengers continue to use it every year.
Network Rail stated: “The improvements will not just deliver a bigger and better station - it will improve the capacity and reliability of services across the South-east of England. “Up to 24 trains an hour will be able to travel through central London, linking Bedford, Luton Airport, Peterborough and Cambridge with East Croydon, Gatwick Airport and Brighton.”
The company said the Thameslink programme will deliver huge benefits to passengers when they are opened in 2018, increasing capacity and frequency of services across London.
Further work on the Sussex and Kent routes will see investment in protecting critical infrastructure such as embankment and cuttings stabilisation and drainage, to help minimise disruption due to severe weather events.
But Dave Ward, Network Rail’s route managing director for the South-east, warned that despite the large investment which will deliver significant benefits to passengers by the end of 2019, there will have to be trade-offs to achieve them.
He said: “Billions of pounds are being invested in the Thameslink programme which includes the redevelopment of London Bridge station, which will deliver significant benefits for passengers. “This will transform the railway for passengers across Kent and Sussex, but the interim period while the work is taking place to complete these projects will provide many tests for passengers, as well as Network Rail and the train operators. “This is an example of the trade-offs that have to be made.”
But he added: “The end result will be a better railway for everyone, which will encourage continued economic growth across Kent, Sussex and Surrey." The Network Rail announcement was welcomed by Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, the Crawley-based business group which represents business and commerce in the region to provide what it calls “a united voice to influence Local and Central Government issues.” Mr Taylor said: “The important thing is we are seeing some investment from central government and regional and local agencies.”
He said: “The jobs boost at Three Bridges and the development of an interchange at Redhill are both significant to the local economy.
“One of the most important things we need to see is the continuation of a dedicated Gatwick Express service connecting Gatwick to London, and I would hope that the improvements in999 capacity will mean that we can return to this dedicated first class service.”
He said: “It's gone down in value and ability .
“We need to get back to the trains we used to have, and to starting and finishing at Gatwick.”
And Andy Parr, chairman of Horley Association of Traders, also welcomed the news, saying: “We can only welcome improvement and see it as enhancement.”
Mr Parr said: “If you were to give Horley an identity you could in some respects say it's a commuter town, so the transport infrastructure is key.
“Most people who choose to move here do so because of the transport infrastructure. “It's another good reason for coming here and bringing your business here.”
He said: “It will help bring new business into the area, it will help attract more retail activity and it's that chain of activity that will help drive things forward.”
The Network Rail strategic business plan was drawn up in response to the Government's announcement last summer outlining what it wants the railway to deliver from 2014 to 2019.
The next step in the process will see the ORR publish its draft determination on the strategic business plan and how much money it thinks Network Rail needs to deliver what's required in June.