Plans drawn up to improve Ely railway station

PLANS to upgrade facilities for travellers at Ely railway station - including a new car park for 300-500 vehicles- have been drawn up.

The long term vision would also include a new vehicular access route from the current Tesco roadway if the supermarket moved away from Angel Drove, and increasing the height clearance of the underpass by the station.

A final report from consultants commissioned to examine access issues at the station has highlighted a number of problems experienced by rail users, and has come up with a set of solutions, for different time frames.

It says that if Tesco relocates, then between 2014 and 2020, improvements could include changing the access, establishing a bus stop on the station forecourt, providing a new taxi area and building a 300-500 vehicle car park with priority bays for people sharing their journey to the station. Major improvements to the adjoining A142 road would include increasing the height of the station underpass, or constructing a southern link road.

But in the short term, a set of less ambitious set of improvements were also put before East Cambridgeshire District Council’s Development and Transport sub-committee on Tuesday.

The report concluded that demand for rail travel from Ely is set to grow - and nearly 1000 members of the public responded to a survey to point out what amenities are currently lacking at the site.

According to the report that was commissioned by the district council, local bus services between the station and the city centre are “poor”.

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“Less that two per cent of trips to/from Ely station are currently by bus,” said the report.

Other concerns highlighted were the poorly configured station car park, inadequate signage to the Angel Drove car park, and the perception that it is expensive to park at the station.

The report says cycle parking is inadequate; and the congestion associated with the level crossing barriers makes vehicular access to the station difficult.

In the short term, the main improvements being sought are:

* Improved signage between the station and other key destinations in the city

*Re-design of the ticket hall to reduce congestion

* Provision of more cycle parking

*An improved pedestrian access to the station

*An improved bus service linking Ely and the wider rural area to the station

*A Smarter Travel Choices information campaign

Discussions have taken place with local authorities and train companies, and funding is being sought to fund the proposed work, from local authority grants and the private sector. A bid for �195,000 from the Local Sustainable Transport fund has been made.

Councillor Peter Moakes, Chairman of the Development and Transport Committee said : “The railway is one of the great things about Ely. While we know that there can be significant improvements made to the station access and encouraging people out of their cars, our survey told us how important the small things are.

“We will be working with out partners and Network Rail to find the money to pay for these short term projects, bu tin the longer term it is work connected with resolving the A142 railway crossing congestion which will be able to support the bigger infrastructure needs in the area.”