A further £875,000 has been granted to Network Rail for Thanet Parkway railway station scheme to help the overcome cost increases due to the impacts of the COVID pandemic, Brexit, and inflation.
The government funding, which is allocated via the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), has been redistributed after projects in Sussex and Essex stalled. The SELEP board agreed the cash would be made available to existing projects that were hit by higher costs or wanted to expand on the initial schemes.
Thanet Parkway, which entered its delivery phase in 2020, with planning consent granted in September 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, was one of the successful bids.
The station and car park works are substantially complete; the remaining works relate to the upgrade of two adjacent level crossings. 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 needs to carry out other level crossing safety and ‘line speed improvement work’.
The project has been impacted by inflationary pressures which include an additional £330k required due to increases in the cost of steel by £114k, £117k increase for the acoustic barrier, and £76k increase in the cost of hoarding.
The cash comes from the government’s Get Building Fund that was launched in 2020 as a way to stimulate economic recovery and help mitigate the impact that COVID-19 has had on employment levels.
The extra funds were approved at a County Council meeting today (November 22).
The project is funded by:
South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) (Local Growth Fund) (£14 million)
Getting Building Fund (HM Government) (£12 million) plus the £875k boost
New Stations Fund (£3.4 million)
Thanet District Council (£2 million)
East Kent Spatial Development Company (£700k)
Kent County Council (£5.8m).
Passenger services from Thanet Parkway station are expected to begin in May 2023.
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.
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 claimed that the two-platform station is not needed.
Labour County Councillor for Margate Barry Lewis has branded the latest funding “a scandalous waste of public money.” But Conservative County Councillor for Broadstairs Ros Binks said residents from new housing developments in the area would likely use the station.
She added: “It is not just a matter of people not wanting it. Quite a lot of people in Birchington and Westgate want it as it will be quicker.”
She said there was a “50/50 split” and many people will use the station.