CONCERNS over the future of Crewe's proposed multi-million pound railway station redevelopment have been voiced after Network Rail said it was considering an alternative site out of the town.
Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council leader Brian Silvester said he was anxious that Crewe gets its new station on time in 2011, the anticipated completion date for the £38m Gateway project.
If the Network Rail Basford idea is realised, the new station would be built in Basford during a £200m re-signalling operation, which could take until 2016 to complete.
Cllr Silvester said news of potential delays to Crewe's new station would not be welcomed by the public.
He said: 'People would take it very badly. We are pressing for the new station to be completed as soon as possible, and if this will not be the case it will attract a lot of criticism.'
'Our main concern is to improve Crewe's railway station as soon as possible, and we have been lobbying for years for that.'
He said that access to the potential site was his main concern.
'If Network Rail want to consider other options then by all means, but we need to ensure access and facilities for the public at whatever site are as good if not better than what we expect from the new station,' he added.
Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council's Liberal Democrat group leader Gwyn Griffiths, himself a former railwayman, has expressed 'deep concern' over suggestions that Crewe Station could be moved.
He said: 'Experience elsewhere has shown station remodelling is always a long drawn out process. Crewe cannot wait for yet more 'feasibility studies' before getting on with the job of giving our town a station fit for modern travellers.
'Moving the station further south would move it even further from the town centre, and make access on foot or by bus difficult.
'Finally, Crewe's station is located where it is for a very good reason - it's where the three different routes from the North, and three from the South converge. Moving it would make interchange more difficult. Is it going to turn into an excuse to reduce Crewe's role, and to reduce travel opportunities for local people?
'When I first heard the suggestion of moving the station to Basford I thought it was a wind-up. Network Rail should be open, and make it clear whether this is something they are seriously considering. They need to consider the impact on the thousands who rely on being able to access the station - and not just those who arrive by car.'
The idea to build at the Basford site includes a smaller central station which would be built in Crewe town centre.
Network Rail spokesman Keith Lumley said relocating the new station would make it closer to the Shavington Bypass, and would improve access and ease congestion around the present Crewe station.
He added: 'We came up with the idea of putting it near Basford Hall, making it closer to the bypass, so we could possibly build a park and ride station there.
'As it would be even further out of town, we could build a smaller station to serve the town centre.
'We are looking at that as a possible option. It would not cost that much to build a couple of new stations.'
He said the idea had been discussed with the borough and county councils, but all parties were still committed to the Gateway Project.
Cheshire County Council transport co-ordinator Mike Ross said he was aware of the plan but had not been formally notified.