Thanet Parkway plan thrown in doubt as councillors vote for fresh public consultation

Thanet Parkway Station

Controversial plans for the Thanet Parkway railway station will go back out to public consultation next month after county councillors voted against moving forward with the proposal until Thanet residents have been asked for views.

The proposed station at Cliffsend, which has spiralled in cost to £34.51million, was discussed by members of KCC’s Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee this morning (November 29).

But a recommendation to agree to progress and deliver the Thanet Parkway Railway Station project – with up to a total KCC contribution of £17.81million – was rejected with 13 of the 14 councillors instead agreeing that Thanet residents should be consulted once again.

The amended motion put forward by Cllr Harry Rayner was to recommend that before taking any further action: “That KCC undertake a further public survey and consultation with one of the questions on the survey being ‘do you want a Thanet Parkway station?'”

Members on the committee -representing Thanet, Cllr Barry Lewis – all supported the new consultation.

Cllr Lewis hailed the decision as a ‘victory,’ saying: “This is a victory for Thanet and sends the message to KCC of Thanet Parkway, no way.”

Cllr Rosalind Binks and Cllr Paul Messenger spoke in favour of the local consultation as concerned Thanet representatives.

The decision to again consult was despite a warning given to the committee by Katie Stewart that: “Without the decision by Cabinet to move forward on this project we will lose the £14million SELEP funding and the project will not be delivered in the current timescale and it is unlikely it will be delivered in the future.”

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Lewis branded the project ‘a white elephant’ saying he was concerned for passenger safety at an unmanned station, highlighting the rising cost and questioning the need for an eighth station on the isle.

He also said of the £2million pledged by the previous Conservative administration at Thanet council: “It has not been delivered, it was only a promise and promises can be broken – watch this space.”

Cllr Binks also raised the issue of passenger safety and the ‘lack of basic facilities’ as well as the danger of more building on agricultural land due to the expectation of the station creating demand for new homes.

Cllr Messenger echoed concerns of associated house building and pointed out a survey in 2017 showed only 34% of those who responded said they would use the new station. He called the estimated 10 minute journey reduction time to London ‘smoke and mirrors’ as a predicted rail upgrade would see a cut in travel times from all stations.

The original estimated cost of the Parkway project was £11.2 million but a meeting of the SE England Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) this month revealed that sum has now tripled.

The hike in costs means the project will now be reviewed by the SE England Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) – which administers Local Growth Fund cash – in February 2020  with a Full Business Case required to confirm that the project “still presents value for money.” If full funding is not in place SELEP may withdraw its contribution.

The project funding package includes £14million Local Growth Fund, £2m from Thanet District Council with a grant agreement currently being drafted, £700,000 from East Kent Spatial Development Company and the remaining funding from Kent County Council.

Some £10.2million will be spent by Network Rail on upgrade work to the level crossings at Cliffsend and Sevenscore.

A planning application for the controversial project was submitted in June last year. It is due to be built off the Hengist Way, on the existing Ashford to Ramsgate rail line near the Sevenscore roundabout. It will be a  two platform station with the entrance on the north side. There will be a 300 space car park, platforms accessible by stairs, lift and pedestrian bridge.

Waiting shelters, CCTV and passenger information points will be provided on each platform along with ticket machines and a help point to provide remote assistance by intercom.

There will be a car park for 299 cars, plus an additional 20 bays for pick-up/drop-off and taxi parking. The car park includes 16 disabled bays and 19 spaces for electric vehicles. Cycle parking and two bus stops will also be provided.

The station is designed to be unstaffed and managed remotely through the use of CCTV and intercom.

The original planning application has been withdrawn and a new planning application with a revised design has been submitted to KCC but councillors at today’s meeting expressed dissatisfaction with the new design. There were also concerns that KCC only owns the car park area with the freehold for the station being held by Network Rail and that the location would mean extra traffic on the roads and possibly impact on railway stations in the towns.

If the station plan does go ahead it is expected to be operational by 2022.

45 Comments

  1. This money could be used to bring the A28 Canterbury Road between Sarre and St Nicholas -at- Wade roundabout which was deemed by a national as one of the most dangerous roads in the UK, KCC councillors are aware of the poor condition of this road yet sit on their hands, last accident was a TDC Refuse lorry which was left on its side and its crew taken to hospital. what has to happen maybe an accident involving a bus full of school children will get KCC to do something about this appalling dangerous road.

      • How do you suggest that is done? The problem on the line is that there are too many stops, platforms are too short, there is a large demand for the service, no one wants their local station closed.
        So you can’t run longer trains (which would both carry more people but not take up much extra track space )
        You can’t go faster as too much time is lost accelerating and stopping as there are so many stations.
        You can’t run more services due to signalling and track safety.
        None of the above can sorted out with 34 million.

        • There are (currently) no stops between Ramsgate and Canterbury, and that’s the only stop before the route joins HS1.
          Between Ramsgate and Canterbury there is st least one section with a 40 mph speed restriction. Would it cost £34M to sort that?

  2. Once again kcc are keeping Thanet behind.it is obvious Thanet kcc member’s are objecting to the plans.They are putting their politics first instead of the benefit for their voters.job creation in the future less cars on the road. Brian smith Stewart.

  3. At last they seem to listening to the people! This is a station that is unwanted, and unnecessary! Instead the money should be spent on resurfacing the roads in Thanet, that look like something 3rd world countries would be ashamed of! They are a danger to cyclists, and badly need to be upgraded so kids can be encouraged to cycle to school, which is something I would not recommend now!

  4. I don’t believe the lies that KCC and this government tell. Explain how has the cost of building the Parkway station gone from £11.5 million to £34.51 millions. If and it’s a big if, it has then the extra cost is the fault of KCC for taking so long to make up their minds. To say they are putting It back to public consultation is simply a cop-out. The majority of the public in Ramsgate / Thanet do not travel on a train from one year to the next so what’s the point of asking the public. By all means ask the public if the THANET public would like to save taxpayers money and do away with KCC and all it’s money grabbing councillors who waste taxpayers money by pretending they are saving it.

    • It is a publicly funded project carried out by private companies – that is why the cost escalates out of control. Nobody in the public sector keeps a firm hold on the purse strings and private companies see it as an opportunity to make massive profits.

      If the “estimate” is already £34m the final cost will £68 if it were to be built !

      This money will be better spent on services and facilities that tax payers will receive some benefit. We already have SIX railway stations in Thanet . . .

  5. Spend some money on Bringing our old 56 bus service back,KCC could not afford to continue with it yet can spend millions on turner centre and unwanted rail stations

  6. For goodness’ sake! Spend money on improving public transport- more buses, better facilities at railway stations. Thanet has enough railway stations- and too many cars.

    The council should ask the public! Plenty of people travel on trains regularly.

  7. Two thoughts:—

    A) How on earth can projected costs for anything more than TRIPLE in a few years? It confirms that decisions are made based on complete fantasy figures, prices plucked out of the air by companies after the contract , knowing that they can ratchet-up the price once they’ve got the work as local Councillors or, even, national governments don’t have the bottle to tell them where to get off.

    B) What kind of station will have NO STAFF? I suggest that it won’t be a gleaming, modern high-tech place of shining wonder, it will be a drab, dirty, frightening place, echoing with the yelps of vandals and thieves, with the anxious passengers scurrying through, hoping they can get on a train, any train, just to get out unmugged.

  8. another ridiculous idea by a ridiculous council no wonder our rates are sky high what we really need is a council that uses common sense.not pc rules

  9. I think £34.5 million is a bargain for a station that is not needed. If trains stopped here. Margate and Ramsgate will be like Westgate and hardly any trains stopping there. To force people to the new station. Also if it is a failure and does not work out, and is not used. We will have the full set. A station with no trains to go with the airport with no planes and our Port with no ferries.

    • You forgot the tunnel under West Cliffe, built at a cost of £30 million plus I believe, to facilitate traffic to the Harbour, that went well didn’t it! Parkway would be a work creation scheme to ensure £millions of our tax money finds its way into private pockets, just like all the other publicly owned industries that were privatised! You haven’t seen anything yet, Johnson is the “First Lord of the Treasury” which I believe is the official title of the Prime Minister!

  10. If they are going to have a new railway station have one in Manston Airport. That would make more sense when we have the airport open again.

    • Ann, you do write some extraordinary things.
      Can you explain a) *how* you would get a railway line up to Manston;
      b) why on Earth would you want to open a railway station at a closed, defunct airport;
      c) who would pay for it?

  11. Thanks to cross party support by thanet county councillors we have hopefully stopped the Thanet parkway station being built. A total white elephant. £38 million saved including £2 million promised by Thanet council can now be released to improve the area. A fantastic day for Thanet

      • As a cyclist I know 20’s plenty, as has been proved beyond doubt elsewhere in towns and cities where it has been installed. It also cuts down on accidents, and car drivers get to where they are going just as fast! Its a no brainer, and would cost very little to install.

  12. The A254 Margate/Ramsgate Road needs updating and relief of all the traffic forced through it daily. The Enterprise Road junction needs safety precautions integrated into the lights so pedestrians can get across the 40mph section without danger. There needs to be segregation of the four lanes of traffic between the two roundabouts at Tesco and Debenhams to stop vehicles turning right across opposite lanes. There is so much that this amount of money could be used on to make it easier and safer in Thanet instead of a station in the middle of nowhere.
    BTW, has Margate station now gone staffless too? We haven’t been able to purchase any tickets down there recently as the ticket office is always closed and the self service machine out-of-order. Is this a cunning ploy to get you to travel without a ticket so the inspector can come and fine you onboard? I have heard this happens to a lot of youngsters who get stopped without a ticket.

    • No one gets fined for not having a ticket when the machine is broken and the office closed. Not unreasonably, you are expected in those circumstances to seek out the train manager as soon as you board the train, and ask for a ticket. It’s happened to me many times travelling from Dumpton Park, and I’ve never been fined.

  13. Well Xmas comes early this year! For once KCC has got it right – kick this idiotic idea into the long grass and leave it there. Strong suspicion that this proposal was to provide the excuse for private developments on greenfield sites. Certainly there are no “transport” reasons for an unwanted station in the middle of village that doesn’t want it. Nor are there any “environmental” ones – HS1 javelin trains already travel fairly full-up and a new staff-less station won’t encourage any more users. So well done Barry Lewis and thanks also to the Tory councillors who put the interests of Thanet before toeing the “party line”. Many other “posters” on this site have suggested better uses for any capital money for transport – bring back the bus services slashed, resurface a lot of roads, traffic improvements and a “20 m.p.h.” speed limit amongst them. Lastly, I know this is capital and not revenue money but for TDC this amounts to interest payments of £80K a year for sixty years – doesn’t create a single home or job and is just an albatross around charge-payers necks. So thank those councillors who listened – “when you’re in a hole, best to stop digging”!

  14. Andrew. Thank you for your kind compliments. I’m not sure if you know the geography of Manston Airport area but for a railway station to be located inside the airport perimeters would not be very expensive or difficult. I’m talking like the Gatwick Express. The main line railway track is less than 1500 metres from the airport grounds. Network Rail / airport owners / government would all play a part in its development. Therefore making the airport within easy reach of all the many thousands of passengers who will use it. £1 of each ticket sold world pay for the cost and running of the station.

    Unfortunately THANET residents / TDC / KCC / GOVERNMENT. All need to make an appointment with SpecSavers because they cannot see beyond their noses to anything that would lift this area out of the doldrums that it has been wallowing in for years and years. Wake up and smell the coffee.

    • To get a rail line to manston would be a very big project you cant come from the ramsgate / minster line as the incline is to steep. To come from the margate/Victoria line again isn’t straightforward. It would cost a fortune to get a rail line and station to manston. Plus no guarantees the air would open or stay open.

    • Ann: you’re welcome.
      The main railway line might only be 1500 m from Manston, but it is also 150 feet lower than Manston (I did look at the geography). As “Confused” (and he certainly isn’t) has pointed out, that would require an unfeasibly steep gradient. It would be practically impossible to build a railway up to Manston.
      You argue that such a railway would make Manston within easy reach of the many thousands of passengers… One of Manston’s major problems is that there are too few people in Thanet wanting to fly from or to Manston. An improved rail service will just make it easier for would-be passengers to travel to a proper airport, such as Gatwick.
      PS: RSP’s intention is to open a cargo hub. So a railway station wouldn’t be any use, anyway.

    • I wouldnt worry about manston being reopened even if it got the go ahead from government. No business in their right mind would put the money forward to build it anyway. No fuel line, no decent motorways, no railway line. At the end of the day geographically manston is in the wrong place and without any infrastructure. Only a mad person would put money into manston as an airport.

  15. Stand on the roundabout at Tothill looking towards Monkton to the left that is the direction that the rail line would take.
    Those of you who say “ it could not be done” have never travelled across Europe on trains. In Portugal there is 1 in 7.2 gradient. In Switzerland 1 in 12.6 gradient and so on. I only look at ‘ can Do’ in life not. Can’t do.

    • No, you’re looking at wild fantasy.
      You still don’t say who’s going to pay for this folly, nor do you explain why a railway (irrespective of the gradient) would make any difference to a cargo hub?
      Nor do you say where all these passengers (not that there will be any planes of any sort, let alone PAX) will come from.

  16. Marva, excuse me whilst I put more coal on my lovey cosy fire. Mmmm then I will drive my 4 by 4 to Aldi’s to buy my shopping. Then on Tuesday I will fly to Sweden to visit my sister for a few days. I must also tell the farmer down the lane to stop letting his animals pass wind or burb.

  17. The country has a housing shortage and a transport problem, thanet is going to have huge numbers of homes built in the years ahead, the climate change agenda means private car ownership will be very different 20 years from now, thanet is unlikely to attract big employers, so you need to move the workforce towards london, getting people to the existing stations will be problematic in terms of congestion, so the proposed parkway is , for once, an attempt to put the infrastructure in place before its needed, twenty years from now thanet could conceivably be at least 50% larger than it is now, so we need the infrastructure to balance that, this is a start.
    Population growth has its needs.

  18. Thanet is going to be smaller if (when) the sea level rises! And creating more jobs in Thanet is not an impossibility. Perhaps the government (any government which happens to be in power) could fund some job-creation schemes, clean industries for example, in Thanet.

  19. Marva. Please say what to want to without being rude. Manston airport has been an airport a lot longer than it has stood empty. The RAF were based there to protect us as were the USAF with their boomer jets. Stop being a complete doom and gloom person.. if the water levels get too high then maybe the Isle of Thanet will be the Isle of Thanet for real again. If we all stopped eating meat, stopped using cars / planes and trains the Green mob would want us to give up something else. The Green Party is as popular as an sti. So let’s be realistic with the life and opportunity that life has given us. and stop complaining.

    • Arguably, Manston has never been an “airport”. It has been an airfield and a USAAF base. But “airport”? No.
      Granted, a few planes rumbled over Ramsgate a few times a night. But as a commercial venture? No.
      It lost £100,000,000 over the time it was an “airport”, and was losing £1000s a day when finally it closed.
      And before you bang on about bad management: it previously went bust under the guiding hand on one Tony Freudmann, the struck off solicitor, the serial destroyer of airports (a dozen to his credit so far .. and counting); now a director of RSP, the off-shore shadowy outfit now wanting to run Manston an airport.

      • It does puzzle me how the pro manston airport get confused with with the difference between a military airport and a private airport. As a stand alone private airport it’s gone bust 3 times and never made money. Yet the pros ignore this and point to how long it was open when us tax payers paid for it !

  20. “The Green mob” is hardly a reasonable way to describe Green Party members. .

    Regarding Manston Airport, RSP’s alleged plans are for a cargo hub airport: the defence of the realm does not enter into it. Realistically, aviation and car use need to be reduced- as soon as possible.

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