Rail station plans hit new snagBy Caroline Cook
October 10, 2011
Detailed plans for the multi-million pound redevelopment of Wokingham railway station have been submitted to Wokingham Borough Council but town centre groups say extra work around the area will be needed to draw more visitors to the town.
Network Rail submitted plans to the council last week with detailed blueprints showing a state-of-the-art train station with retail areas and a large glass-fronted station building.
The council’s executive has pledged £1.5 million to the improvement of the station, which will be moved further down the track towards Reading, and £5m for a road linking Station Road and Reading Road.
Other funding is coming from the National Stations Improvement Programme, which aims to revamp 150 medium-sized stations in England and Wales.
But those living and working around the town centre say work will need to be done around the station area to improve traffic and pedestrian walkways.
John Piasecki, owner of Hudson Bay in Denmark Street, said: “I think the location of the train station will not have any major impact.
“The main difference will always be not just the location of things like a train station and the town centre but the key thing is the walk between the two.
“If you get off the train and the access to Elms Field is down Wellington Road the pavements are awful. It’s quite a busy road and that’s not conducive to encouraging lots of people to access Wokingham by train.
“You might do it once but you won’t do it again.”
Mr Piasecki also said improvements would need to be made to the pedestrian crossing in Wellington Road which is often cited as a cause for congestion alongside the level crossing.
In the plans submitted by Network Rail the company includes a vision of how the link road will run in front of the station with extra parking spaces proposed to create more than 150 spaces.
There will also be two taxi ranks, a 20-minute parking bay and a cycle parking facility along with a large ticket hall, seating and toilets inside the station.
In a letter submitted with the plans Network Rail says the existing station building is “problematic with an industrial appearance and cramped, under-sized internal entrance and layout”.
It is hoped the redevelopment will create a “noticeable and lasting” improvement with aims to provide a modern station with improved passenger flows.
Peter Must, from the Wokingham Society, also raised concerns about whether the station would have disabled access.
He said: “I am sure a major concern and one of many residents is, as far as I can see, there are no plans to put lifts in to give access to each platform and there will be all sorts of people who will be disadvantaged.
“Users would think Wokingham really does not have a friendly approach when they arrive. This seems to me one absolute necessity with a modern station.”
Councillor Keith Baker, executive member for transport, said the council would be looking at improving the area around the station with the link road designed to reduce traffic congestion.
He said: “As you know we are progressing the station link road. In addition to that as part of the Wokingham town centre regeneration we will be reviewing that whole area to see what improvements we need to make there.
“The new train station is not going to be there tomorrow, it’s going to take a while and so we are considering that development with our thinking about the town centre regeneration and that whole area is being reviewed.
“Things like not only lighting but a lot of people complain about the pedestrian crossing near the Molly Millar pub and it causing undue congestion because of it’s position.
“So that is one of the things we will be looking at to see if there is action we can take without reducing safety, that is absolutely critical.”