Passenger services from Thanet Parkway station are expected to begin in May 2023.
The main station construction is due to be completed by May this year but further works along the line are needed before the station can go into service.
Cliffsend level crossing will be converted from its current automatic half barrier crossing (two barriers lowered when a train approaches) to a crossing monitored by CCTV. This will include four barriers, which once in the lowered position will completely close Foads Hill when a train approaches.
To ensure that existing journey times on this line of route are not extended due to there being an extra station for trains to stop at, Network Rail also need to carry out other level crossing safety and ‘line speed improvement work’.
There is a need to increase the speed of trains on certain sections of the line to make up for lost time. This requires changes to the track and signalling as well as additional safety measures to be implemented. Without this work, trains stopping at the new station would add up to 150 seconds to journey times for existing rail users.
In addition to the upgrade at Cliffsend, there will be safer level crossings at: Dibleys, Ships Meadow, Grove Ferry, and Sevenscore.
The piling of the foundations for the platforms, lifts and staircases were completed in early August. Scaffolding was erected over the embankment to allow the completion of the steel structure, which was then followed by the installation of platform copers (the concrete sections of platform). The lift and staircases have also begun to be clad.
The car park has the drainage installed, base layers constructed and kerbing put into place. In the station forecourt, the new substation building and the cleaner’s facilities have both been built.
Acoustic barriers will be installed at the rear of the platforms.
Thanet Parkway is part of a programme of wider improvements to the railway line between Ashford International/ Canterbury West and Ramsgate stations.
The station will be served by both mainline and high-speed trains and will include two platforms that will be able to accommodate 12-car trains.
There will be ticket machines, waiting shelters, parking for 293 vehicles, bus stops, pick-up and drop-off zones, electric charging points, hearing loops, cycle storage, CCTV, seating, landscaping works and passenger help points to provide remote assistance for those who need it.
A new road will provide access to the station from the A299 Hengist Way with a new pedestrian and cycleway providing access to and from Cliffsend village.
Work is being undertaken by Bam Engineering. The construction of the junction from the A299 Hengist Way has been carried out by contractor Eurovia. This will be a new left in – left out traffic signal controlled junction.
Archaeological excavation at the site was undertaken by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and is being managed by the WSP Cultural Heritage and Archaeology team.
The project is funded by:
South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) (Local Growth Fund) (£14 million)
Getting Building Fund (HM Government) (£12 million)
New Stations Fund (£3.4 million)
Thanet District Council (£2 million)
East Kent Spatial Development Company (£700k)
Kent County Council (£5.8m).
The £34million Thanet Parkway Station has spiralled in cost from an initial £11.2 million.
The costs comprise of:
£19.99m for the station and car park (at 80% probability and inclusive of 11% contingency);
£10.20m for the level crossing upgrades (at 10% probability and inclusive of 57% contingency – this level of contingency is standard industry practice with work at GRIP1 stage);
£4.14m for other costs including the highway junction works, archaeological mitigation works, land purchase, planning costs, legal costs and fees.
Kent County Council says the station at the 9.27 hectare greenfield site will provide more jobs for Cliffsend residents, reduce journey times from east Kent to London and improve the “attractiveness” of Thanet and Dover as places for investment.
The long-standing dispute over building a new station in Thanet has rumbled on since 2010.
Kent County Council first put forward a planning application in May 2018 but withdrew it 18 months later due to concerns over footbridge access. The plans were altered and an existing Victorian underpass beneath the railway is being used to link the station’s two platforms.
There were widespread objections from Thanet county councillors and residents in the area, who together claim that the two-platform station is not needed and it is a “waste of public money”.
Cllr Barry Lewis branded it as a new burden for Thanet commuters to ‘suffer’ adding time to travel from the isle’s other seven stations and Ramsgate Councillor Karen Constantine expressed concerns about the need for many Ramsgate residents to drive to Parkway and the need to pay parking fees. She says there are also safety concerns due to it being an unstaffed station.
Cllr Rosalind Binks (Con), who represents Broadstairs at county level, said she has been “hot and cold” over her views on Parkway since the idea was first mooted under the administration of former KCC leader Paul Carter (Con) in 2010.