Funding gap leaves Luton Train Station upgrade on the sidings
Luton Railway Station’s long overdue upgrade lies in the sidings for now, as attempts are made to bridge a funding gap.
Liberal Democrat Crawley councillor Terry Keens was hoping it might be full steam ahead for the scheme when he asked the portfolio holder for an update at a borough council meeting.
The local authority drew up plans for the redevelopment of the station, according to its executive member for place and infrastructure and Labour Farley councillor Sian Timoney.
“These were submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT), Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway,” she explained.
“This would allow for the access that is required at the station, and that was back in August.
“The DfT have asked Network Rail to take over the lead of this project.
“So Network Rail is going to look at the design and the cost compliance, and that process is still on-going.”
A number of options were discussed towards the end of last year for the first phase of improvements, including lifts and stairs to all platforms.
It had been agreed that the organisations will start working towards the preferred option to install a new bridge at first floor level above the entrance to platform five at the station.
Lifts and stairs would connect passengers to platforms one, two, three and four.
This option would make the station fully accessible and include a new link provided to the ticket office.
“It’s very much in Network Rail’s hands, and it’s likely the company will have to submit planning applications,” said councillor Timoney, who’s also deputy leader of the council.
“I do need to tell you there is a potential funding shortfall for this project.
“You might be aware the council has provisionally approved a £2m contribution for this scheme, which is in the capital programme.
“The DfT has indicated it will contribute £5m through the Access for All (AfA) fund, but that’s subject to its final approval.
“There’s potentially £2m more via other funds within Network Rail and Govia Thameslink. Again they are yet to be confirmed.
“That still leaves approximately £1.8m to find to fund the development,” she added.
“So once Network Rail has finished its appraisal and its cost checking, and started its funding applications then we’ll be in talks with them.
“It’s currently assumed Network Rail and the DfT will be the ones that bridge the gap to ensure this goes ahead. We are pushing for that to happen.
“But we’ve been consistent all the way through with £2m towards the project, a very generous amount, and we hope the other players in this long-running campaign do what they need to do.”
Also under discussion was whether the front of the station around the ground floor entrance to platform five can be moved forward to enable a new small ticket office to be provided.
Councillor Keens described it as “very enlightening” and called for a further update once there is any more progress to report.