OOPS! – we forgot the car park.
Chester Railway station may have had a £1.3m revamp but it appears car parking was not high on the list of priorities even though the existing ones are often full.
Despite a 35% increase in passengers not one extra car parking space has been added, sending frustrated commuters on a drive to Crewe or Runcorn to board their trains.
The parking situation will get worse next year when Virgin introduce an almost hourly service to London Euston.
Chester MP Christine Russell believes a new car park could be almost two years away although Arriva – which runs the station – Virgin and Network Rail are now talking about a solution.
But, a meeting called by Ms Russell heard Chester City Council might have its own ideas about where the car park should go leading to more potential delays.
About 15 options are on the table as to the location of the car park which is likely to be on railway land to keep down the cost.
Ms Russell’s preferred option is to turn the west car park next to Hoole bridge into a multi-storey.
But Gemma Easter, Chester Station project manager, from the city council, said the site was identified as a “development opportunity” in the Local Plan and a multi-storey in a conservation area next to the Grade 2* listed railway station and on a key gateway route into the city might not be in keeping.
The meeting heard Arriva has a 10 year franchise to run Chester station and building a car park would not pay for itself in such a short time span.
So Government owned-Network Rail has stepped into the breach to provide funds up front and will recoup its money through rental income on the station.
Tracie Fairfoot of Network Rail said experience elsewhere indicated it would take nine months to get to the construction stage and at least 12 months to build it. She said getting on site in 2009 “should be achievable”.