CITY MP Christine Russell claims there has been “a missed opportunity” in a multi-million pound upgrade of the area around Chester Railway Station.
Ms Russell believes the three month closure of Hoole bridge for strengthening work could have been used to create a segregated pedestrian and cycling lane.
She also argues additional parking should be created as part of the railway station revamp in anticipation of Virgin laying on extra direct trains to London in 2008.
Speaking about Hoole bridge, she said: “It’s quite frightening. If you are with a child in a buggy and have another child in hand, it’s really difficult.”
Ms Russell says the community should have been consulted over the work. “I, as MP, was not consulted. If I had been I would have argued there should have been a segregated safe pedestrian and cycling lane.”
Ms Russell is particularly incensed that “not a single extra car parking space” will be created as part of the revamp of Chester station even though the number of direct trains to London is increasing from three to 11 next year.
She said even now people were forced to drive to Crewe or Runcorn stations where there was ample parking, others drove into the city centre and got a bus back to the station
Ms Russell says Chester station is run by Arriva Trains Wales with the car park leased from Network Rail and believes there is little incentive for Arriva to pay for extra parking given most of the additional customers will be using services operated by rivals Virgin.
She wants Cheshire County Council, Arriva Trains, Virgin and Network Rail to find a way forward or she will take the matter to railways minister Tom Harris.
Arriva Trains Wales public relations manager, Margaret Abbett responded to the call for extra parking: “Arriva Trains Wales fully supports the idea of increasing car parking capacity at Chester Station to meet with future rail demands.
“We are currently in discussions with Virgin Trains, Department of Transport and Network Rail, looking at whether a business case can be developed between the partners to expand the car parking facilities.”
Network Rail press officer Keith Lumley said Hoole bridge would need to be completely rebuilt to include improved pedestrian and cycling facilities. Funding such work was down to Cheshire County Council, as the highways authority.