Talks start on station's multi-storey car park

PUBLISHED: 11:28 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:50 04 May 2010

HIGH-LEVEL talks are underway which could give Ely commuters a railway station multi-storey car park. The multi-million-pound project, if given the go-ahead, could be backed by cash from rail operator, Network Rail, and underwritten with Government money.

HIGH-LEVEL talks are underway which could give Ely commuters a railway station multi-storey car park.

The multi-million-pound project, if given the go-ahead, could be backed by cash from rail operator, Network Rail, and underwritten with Government money.

East Cambridgeshire District Council has already put up £700,000 for car parking near the station, including cash handed over by superstore, Tesco, when it expanded its Angel Drove store.

But the money, part of a 106 agreement with the supermarket giant, is available only until the end of next year, by which time it must be spent or handed back to Tesco, with interest.

Council chief executive, John Hill, met Network Rail officials and Cambridgeshire County Council officers this week to discuss the plans for car parking and a transport interchange at the railway station.

He said: "This is still only an option but I am more positive now about this than at any other time. If we are able to achieve this, everyone will be a winner. The station is one of the most strategic assets of the whole district. But I still need to make sure that I have alternative options."

Talks have been held on and off with the rail operators in a bid to solve Ely's parking problems for the last 15 years.

But one of the major stumbling blocks has been the fact that rail operators run services under short-term franchise agreements leaving them reluctant to invest large sums of cash without time to realise profit from their investment before they could lose their franchises.

Now the Government has indicated to Network Rail that it could be prepared to underwrite the franchise agreements, giving more security to rail operators.

If given the go-ahead, the plan could involve a car park for at least 150 cars and an interchange to improve traffic movements to and from the station.

"We need to make improvements to the roundabout because there will be an increased number of vehicles leaving the station and there are operational factors, such as the maintenance of the car park to be considered," added Mr Hill. "I am taking personal charge of the initiative and facilitating meetings with the other parties."

A Network Rail spokesman said: "We are fully supportive of these proposals and will continue to work with the council to look at the options available to us, including the possibility of multi-storey parking.

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