A key funding announcement which could transform the future of Luton railway station will be made ‘shortly’, Rail Minister Claire Perry has promised.
Govia Thameslink Railway is still waiting to hear if its bid for £2.5 million from the Department for Transport has been successful – cash that would be used to extend the front of the town centre station and create improved retail units.
The funding is seen as the last piece in the jigsaw for an overall £10.5m scheme to revamp the much-maligned station, but despite being told to expect a decision in December GTR is still in the dark.
Speaking in a House of Commons debate which he secured on the rebuild, Luton South MP Gavin Shuker pressed Ms Perry to accept GTR’s bid as a “vital part of the various pots of funding that will need to be assembled”.
The Rail Minister promised a decision would be made ‘shortly’, adding: “(Mr Shuker) has made the compelling case that, for too long, Luton station has not had the investment it needs.
“It is the 136th busiest station in the UK, and is used by 3.5 million passengers a year. It is not only an important commuter link to London, but a gateway to the midlands and beyond.
“The growth and development of the town will only continue, so ridership numbers will increase.”
In an attempt to keep ambitions over the station in check, Ms Perry advised against a “big bang scheme that is not fully funded” and gave examples of stations that have been redeveloped with a phased approach.
She said: “I know that it is more difficult, and of course one wants to have a vision towards which one is working, but a phased approach might be the way to get the project moving and, as (Mr Shuker) said, to get shovels in the ground.”
Department for Transport officials will meet with Luton Borough Council to discuss the scheme in the coming weeks.