Thanet Parkway costs set to increase ‘substantially’ says county council report

Thanet Parkway station Photo Frank Leppard

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

The cost of a controversial £44m rail project is set to soar “substantially” and the county’s taxpayers will pick up the tab, new papers have revealed.

The Thanet Parkway Station scheme opened officially at the end of July, 13 years after the scheme was first conceived.

But it has come under fire for low passenger numbers and costs which have quadrupled from the original £11m estimate.

Kent County Council (KCC) member for Thanet Cllr Barry Lewis said the authority must “come clean” to taxpayers about the true price tag.

The council is likely to be liable for future costs including CCTV, particularly after security at the station had to be stepped up last August due to issues with antisocial driving around the car park, and archaeological works.

The Labour member is asking KCC officials for clarity when the issue comes before the scrutiny committee on Wednesday (November 1).

Papers to go before the KCC scrutiny committee reveal: “There remain substantial costs associated with this scheme that are yet to be spent which KCC will need to fund (unless further external funding sources are secured).

“Future direct KCC spend includes further archaeological evaluation work required by planning, junction retention costs, CCTV costs, Land Compensation Act costs, and other costs associated with additional signage and improvements to the car park.

“The forecast also includes additional costs being charged by Network Rail.”

There is no indication of cost attached to these works in the KCC report.

However, The Isle of Thanet News previously reported a further spend of £48.6k is being made for a Thanet Parkway cost review and report commissioned by Kent County Council and being carried out by West Midlands based Sable Leigh Consultancy. That report is due to be completed by next February.

County Councillor Karen Constantine says she has also had confirmation that £30,000 will be spent installing 38 speed bumps across Parkway car park to stop nuisance drivers.

The cost

Get Building Fund  £12,874,000

Local Growth Fund  £14,000,000

Kent County Council   £11,585,319

Thanet council  £2,000,000

New Stations Fund £3,400,000

Total £43,859,319 (excluding additional level crossing costs and the cost review report)

Photo Southeastern

The papers say that 200 passenger trips a day are made using the station which is “already half the number […] forecast in the business case by the end of year one”.

According to the documents, KCC has contributed more than £7m of the £40m total so far (to 2022/23). The papers say the council is committed to contributions of “up to £17.81m”.

Cllr Barry Lewis

But Cllr Lewis dismissed many of the claims in the report written by Joseph Ratcliffe, KCC’s Transport Strategy, as “total nonsense and spin”.

He added: “The fact that no one seems to know or is unwilling to say how much these extra costs will be, indicates to me there is a big problem.

“It quotes 200 passenger trips per day but most of them will be return journeys so the actual number of people using the station every day is only about half that.”

Supporters of the project say in time new housing will push the numbers up and argue it was important to put transport infrastructure in place first.

While 200 passenger trips are made via Thanet Parkway daily, 2,700 journeys are taken via nearby Ramsgate station.

The KCC report said that “poor accessibility” in east Kent is a critical barrier to inward investment, undermining the potential for regeneration and jobs.

It adds: “Thanet Parkway station addresses these issues by capitalising on the High Speed 1 services and the Journey Time Improvement (JTI) scheme, which together will bring Thanet to around one hour’s journey time of London, thereby improving the perception of east Kent as a place for investment, especially at nearby business parks such as Discovery Park.”

Thanet Parkway has two 250m platforms taking 12-car trains, and offers services into St Pancras International via Ashford International in 70 minutes.

The station boasts lifts and stairs to access the platforms, ticket machines, waiting shelters, acoustic barriers and almost 300 parking spaces for 293 vehicles.

Additional reporting Kathy Bailes

60 Comments

  1. Of the 200 daily users of Parkway, I imagine 199 are people who usually use Ramsgate, but are taking advantage of the temporary free parking.
    On a positive note, I see that the government has scrapped the plan to close ticket offices.

      • What baffles me is how anybody could believe that adding an extra station on the line would improve journey times!

        • It baffles me more that someone can claim it’s “around one hour’s journey time” from Ramsgate to London.

          • I have used HS1 trains from real Ramsgate to St. Pancras that got me there in 1:08. That’s near enough to 1 hour.

            If they’s spent the £44 million on upgrading the track east of Ashford it could be well under an hour.

        • I read that the station was delivered with other works on the line to increase the speed of trains, so that journey times to the rest of Thanet remain unaffected. Places like Minster, and Sturry have now got faster journey times

          • When the notion of Thanet Parkway was first touted, the reason for its existence was given as improving journey times between Thanet and London. Despite this being utter nonsense, the notion was echoed by the KCC’s cabinet member for transport and Craig MacKinley.
            It was much later on in the process that the real reason for shorter journey times was explained – the improvement of track, signalling and crossings.
            Currently you can’t travel directly between Thanet Parkway and Sturry (for example). You have to go Ashford or Ramsgate and change.

    • Thanet Parkway has no ticket office.
      The platforms are frighteningly narrow.
      The humps and CCTV should have been incorporated into the initial design as would normally expect antisocial behaviour at an unmanned station.
      Where are the buses to bring the passengers who do not drive? Isn’t that supposed to be part of the attraction to travelling by train? It’s not within walking distance to the majority of Thanet and there are no pavements from the nearest Town.

      • Exacty Dave! Most of the Margate to Westwood section could’ve been relaid 20 years ago, but there’s housing all along it now.

        Of course, an underground line would still be possible.

        • They could have spent all those £££ millions on demolishing the houses along the old line to Westwood and relaying the lines. What a difference that would have made for the central town and all those living up there.

          The idiots are running the asylum as always.

          • We live in Manston village and we don’t even have buses yet let alone one that would take us to or near to Thanet Parkway. Certainly can’t walk there either. With Thanets farmland being concentrated over with 17.100 new houses I guess the car park will fill up in the end as there are no jobs for them locally and people will have to commute to London although heaven knows how people can afford it plus the daily parking charges which will be introduced at some point. An unmanned station in the middle of nowhere….crazy

  2. What a complete and utter waste of money ,on this vanity project,from KCC and others. Even if Some of the people who move to new housing in that area ,use the place ,it will still be a place ,you have drive to.Public transport there is virtually non existent,out there.Money would have better used on the potholes ,public transport etc

    • I disagree Ray, with the housing crisis people gotta live somewhere. And this station will encourage developers to build thousands of homes around it on the surrounding fields and at the defunct Manston Airport – that’s the experience from every other new station.

      • Precisely, we should perhaps be celebrating a bit of inward forward thinking investment, might seem expensive now, but likely way less than it being done 10 years hence.

        • The Thanet left don’t do positivity (they probably think “Climate Change” will finish us all off long before then).

      • People will still drive to that station,even if they live half a mile away,basically ,they are lazy,and don’t leave enough time to get there ,and don’t like the walk back.Nothing will change that,public transport will not be enough

    • There’s gunna be thousands of houses built directly across from it, mate. With foot access over the tunnel/bridge iirc.

  3. Quite why are archeological works required on land that ( seeing as the station is now finished) is unlikely to be substantially disturbed? And why would these planning conditions have been applied and accepted?

  4. A total waste of money, no public transport links and mbout a week ago my friend and I got the last train from London to Margate, we stopped at Thanet Parkway and it was desolate, and lookedvery unsafe for even 2 people on their own. You are in the middle of nowhere.

  5. I was told by a guard on the train back in April that the reason they can say its only 70mins to London is that time is calculated from Thanet Parkway to Stratford

    • The timetable shows the time from where you get on to where you get off.
      For example, the first train tomorrow from Ramsgate to London takes 1h 19 to St Pancras and 7 minutes less to Stratford.
      The KCC hype suggested ridiculous journey times.

    • It won’t.
      Manston would be a cargo hub.
      And even if passengers flew from it, passengers would need to use a shuttle bus between airport and station. And they’d be better served by using Ramsgate station, which has very good connections with a number of London termini.

      • And maybe a passenger service in the future. They could run a shuttle service to the Airport.
        Carlao can be transported by train you know. Maybe get some of the Lorries off the roads.

    • Given mugging is a crime of opportunity, and the station is barely used and miles away from the town centre…nah. Don’t be paranoid all your life, Gaz.

  6. After reading the article, only positives of note. 1. They have lifts and stairs to the platform, 2. They have seven more paking spaces than capacity needed. What a bargain

  7. This is not surprising.When you let Network Rail loose with an open cheque book this is the result.KCC are just not fit for purpose regarding public transport,not with rail,not with buses.
    I went through all this with them, and I warned them, that the station was in the wrong place,was not needed,and that the precious financial resource could be spent better elsewhere.
    Forget about Manston or housing built nearby,because Ramsgate is a better laid out static,with more services.Telling fairy stories is not going to help here.
    The former South Eastern Railway spur to Margate, was rendered redundant in 1926, when the link via Dumpton was built.
    Part of the track bed still exists, but rebuilding a spur line to nowhere is as pointless, as Thanet Parkway.So no, Peter Checksfield it would not improve public transport.
    What will help public transport is electric buses powered by quick charging at bus stops and bus priority lanes.
    Bus franchising to ensure that buses go to where people want them,at the time they need them, at low fares, may be necessary.
    Rural transport services are also in crisis,which randomly built railway stations will not help.

    • Whilst ever public transport is run as a commercial venture it is doomed.
      Because a private enterprise is I’m business to make a profit, not run a service.
      So routes and times that bring in the money (peak hours, between major population centres) operate (at premium fares). Evenings, week ends, low population rural areas don’t get a look-in.

    • Where is the room on our narrow road system for bus lanes? If you have bus lanes where will the rest of the traffic go?

        • “On the buses!”

          Cool, so are you gunna personally ensure that all bus users have a shower, wash their clothes and use deodorant? Are you gunna ensure no-one eats stinky food, keeps their kids quiet, and stops the use of audible video/facetime/calls being taken by narcissists too? Will you also make it cheaper than driving is?

          Because until that happens, you’re not getting me on a bus.

    • But when you consider the cost of TDC’s animal export crusade, which cost the councils coffers 6 million plus? and had no benefit in return ( other than the self satisfaction of those that created the debacle), you’d have to consider the station to be of almost infinitely better value, similarly you’d have to question the cost/ benefit of the loading jetty saga along with the failings of the commecial property department.

      Must be said that when it comes to wasting taxpayers cash , TDC must be in the premiership.

  8. KCC were warned numerous times not to take this doomed white elephant project on at a time when funding was and still is so short, and when services were being cut back in other areas because they had limited funds, but they dismissed all the warnings as nonsense. Now they must find those back then foreseeable extra costs from the council tax payers who didn’t even want or need it. This is KCC bad management at it’s worst allowing the project to go ahead against all common sense.

    Councillors who pushed for this unwanted station even when the costs were mounting before any work started are all to blame. Our local Councillor leader is living in cloud cuckoo land to still believe it was the right thing to do.

    Well at least the Parkway developer made money out of it !

  9. If some of the moaning wolks on this site had their way we would all be back in the dark ages. Of course the station cost a lot money infrastructure projects always do cost a lot because they’re there for a long time and serve the community for a long time. THANET has been changed beyond all recognition because farmers have sold off food growing land to greedy builders who love the likes of Queen Moaner Jenny Dawes always moaning among her builder friends yet not a beep of protest yet the moaners hate Airports that bring jobs or rail stations.

    • SMAa and other pro-Manston people have sought for some while to claim (incorrectly) that the £200,000 raised to support the JR was donated by builders.
      They do this because they can’t accept that there are in Thant thousands of people who are not only against the airport, but willing to dig deep into their pockets.

      And what’s the airport’s tale of woe got to do with a railway station? Other than they’re both unnecessary.

    • If the farms were commercially viable after Brexit, then they wouldn’t have sold up, logically and engaging critical thought.

  10. What a spiteful comment from Bill. Does he actually know anything about Ms Dawes apart from representing all who don’t want an airport at Manston? None of those who don’t want an airport near Ramsgate is a “moaner”.

    • The South Thanet Constituency is made up of about 70,000 people.
      Fewer than a dozen posted get-well messages on the IoTN thread about Craig MacKinley.
      Does this mean, then, that almost 70,000 of South Thanet’s voters are “pure evil”, or are you targeting just one person with your most unpleasant comments?
      What is it about the Welsh that drives you thus?

  11. It is because of the moaners that has kept Labour out of office and the Tories in office. Kier Starmer tells me in his letter “a Labour government would not want to stop any development that could give career opportunities to many in the East Kent and the wider area.” In answer to my question if Labour gains the right to govern in the next general would a Labour government oppose Manston Airport development.” If the answer is yes then welife long labour supporters would not be voting labour.

  12. I’ll be voting Labour whatever Starmer says about Manston. And so will other people I know. Starmer’s opinion on having an airport at Manston is unimportant compared to everything else that the various political parties will have on their agenda.

    • You must mix in very restricted circles if “everyone you know” is voting Labour. I know all sorts of people, from marxists to fascists.

    • Manston will stand or fall depending on whether cargo/haulage companies think its viable. Which it isnt.

      Just seen on the local news that this station was built for the commuters who will have to go back to the office in London. I thought most were back at the office already

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