The opening date for the Thanet Parkway railway station at Cliffsend has now been announced for July 31, some 10-12 weeks later than the initially predicted date of this May.
Network Rail says work on the station is now substantially complete. It will be served by both mainline and high-speed trains.
The station has two platforms that can accommodate 12-car trains. There are lifts and stairs to access the platforms, ticket vending machines, waiting shelters, acoustic barriers, 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 station is accessed from the A299 Hengist Way with a new pedestrian and cycleway to and from Clive Road in Cliffsend village.
Other works to ready the station for passenger services relate to the upgrade of two adjacent level crossings at Cliffsend which have been converted from an automatic half barrier crossing (two barriers lowered when a train approaches) to a crossing monitored by CCTV. This means there will be 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 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 claimed the station was not needed alongside the seven Thanet already has.
There were also questions over passenger safety at an unmanned station and the danger of more building on agricultural land due to the expectation of the station creating demand for 4,500 new homes.
The cost of the project also soared over the decade from an initial £11.2 million to £34million.
Last November a further £875,000 was granted to Network Rail for the scheme to help overcome cost increases due to the impacts of the COVID pandemic, Brexit, and inflation.
The government funding, which was allocated via the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), was redistributed after projects in Sussex and Essex stalled.
South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) (Local Growth Fund) (£14 million plus £875k)
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 (the remaining funds).