Work on a £10.5million redevelopment of Luton train station could be under way within 18 months, the Herald & Post can exclusively reveal.
Plans are afoot for a major revamp which would see the station’s capacity increased, with new retail options and vastly improved disabled access also fundamental to the scheme.
Up to £8.5million has been earmarked for the scheme, which is a joint project between Network Rail, Luton Borough Council, Govia Thameslink and the Department for Transport.
On Tuesday Thameslink CEO Charles Horton met Luton South MP Gavin Shuker to talk through plans for the overhaul to the station, which has seen very little investment since the 1930s.
Mr Shuker told the Herald & Post: “We are closer than we have ever been before on this. I want there to be spades in the ground in the next 18 months.
“Everyone is working towards a target of the 2016-17 financial year.
“We’ve got all of the partners in place but we are just shy on funding at the moment.
“My job is to ensure that the gap is closed and that requires the government to step in to make sure that funds available go to the best place.”
The station, which is used by 3.5 million passengers per year, was identified as one the UK’s worst stations in a 2010 DfT study.
Previous plans for redevelopment were shelved following the last general election, but there is confidence that proposals will go ahead regardless of what happens this May.
Mr Shuker said: “It is not as adventurous as the plans from 2009/2010 but it will feel like a new station.
“Thameslink accept that they have problem as at the moment it is in a terrible state.
“I was pleased they recommitted themselves to a rebuild of the station and I am confident that with Thameslink we are getting alot closer.
“There was a shocking lack of interest in this shown by First Capital Connect.”
Should the scheme come to fruition it would cap off a number of investments that have occurred around the station in recent years.
The latest development– a £500,000 travel centre on Station Road– is set for completion in late Spring.