BROMSGROVE’S brand new £17.4million railway station will now not open until later in the summer after yet another delay.
It was due to be all ready for late spring but now Network Rail, which is delivering the project with Worcestershire County Council and Centro, has announced it is not to be.
Among the problems have been issues with land contamination as the site of the new station is an area which used to be a petrochemical site.
A large culvert, which was not visible on the original plans, has also had to be filled in.
While the majority of the work is complete, there are some ‘outstanding snagging issues’ to sort out before the station can be opened.
Richard Dugdale, senior sponsor for Network Rail, said: “We are sorry to confirm the opening of the new Bromsgrove Station this spring will not happen as planned.
“We have done everything to open the station by this time but regrettably this will not be possible.
“We continue to work with our partners Worcestershire County Council, Centro and London Midland to open the new station as soon as we can.”
He added in the meantime, passengers could continue using the existing station and would be given at least a fortnight’s notice before the new station opened.
Mike Ponsonby, the chairman of Bromsgrove Rail User Group (BRUG), told The Standard: “Despite the inconvenience to rail passengers, the prize is now within sight and notwithstanding the last minute delay due to safety procedures, is well worth waiting for as Bromsgrove’s new station will finally be fit for purpose in 2017.”
He reminded passengers there would be a complete 12-day closure from October 26 to November 6 where there will be no trains going through Bromsgrove. That is so tracks can be realigned and digital signals can be installed – both of which require a total railway shutdown.
And he said BRUG was presently working on improving the rail service south to Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth.
Currently the existing unmanned station sees more than half-a-million people pass through every year but passenger numbers are expected to rise to around 800,000 by 2029.
Network Rail decided to bring Bromsgrove Station into the 21st century by extending the 25kVa wires from Barnt Green, so electric train service with no diesel pollution to the air would be available.
The benefit of which will be three extra trains an hour northbound and cleaner air quality in North-East Worcestershire.
It will have a staffed ticket office, passenger waiting room, toilets, ticket and travel information, new car parks providing standard and disabled spaces, along with electric vehicle charging points, car share bays and two bus stops.
A concourse will link to the new bus stops, taxi rank, pedestrian footpaths, cycle store and car parking areas.
There will also be a covered bridge link to platforms from the concourse with stairs and lifts to all platforms.
Bromsgrove Station was originally built in 1840, almost closed by Richard Beeching in 1971 and re-opened to Traffic in 1984 with construction of Platform 2.
However since 1984 it has had two platforms of two different Lengths, 100metres southbound and 73metres northbound.
This means that a four-car diesel train of 100metres long can stop southbound, but cannot stop on the return journey for safety reasons.
The short platform number 1 cannot be extended due to the steep Lickey Incline at the north-end and Turnout 615/b at the south-end.
Bromsgrove Rail User Group suggested to Network Rail in 2008 that the most cost effective answer was to relocate the station 250metres south to the ex-Oil Terminal Yard.
This brownfield site had been redundant since 1996 and heavily polluted since a big oil spill in 1970.
Therefore thousands of tonnes off polluted soil and 250mm thick concrete had to be removed just to prepare the brownfield site for construction to start.
In the process, two damaged culverts were found dating from circa 1838, which needed remedial action.
Station footfall has been increasing by leaps and bounds since a 21.7 per cent increase in 2006, with circa six per cent annually since then. So train overcrowding is now a major problem and getting worse by the day.
So the only way to resolve train overcrowding is to operate longer and/or more frequent trains.
Bromsgrove’s new station will then have four platforms of 188 metres long, thus allowing four-car trains to stop and after electrification will give three extra trains per hour, or 150 per cent more seats and less overcrowding.