Decision on St Albans train station revamp to be made next month

Govia Thameslink Railways has applied for £5 million from a Department for Transport fund to revamp

Govia Thameslink Railways has applied for £5 million from a Department for Transport fund to revamp St Albans station - Credit: Archant

The long-awaited revamp of St Albans City station hinges on a crucial funding decision that will be made next month.

Station operator Govia Thameslink Railways (GTR) has applied for £5 million from a special Department for Transport (DfT) fund.

The money would provide more than two-thirds of the funds needed to carry out the planned improvements, including more ticket gates and machines, a new entrance building, new cycle hub and a cafe.

The DfT is due to announce its decision on the application in mid-December.

GTR Executives gave an update on the project to St Albans district council local services scrutiny committee on Thursday (5).

Andrew Sidgwick, GTR’s local development manager, explained that the Ridgmont Road entrance, which he said currently resembled a greenhouse, would be pulled down and replaced with a larger building.

There would be more ticket gates to reduce the rush-hour exit queues as well as additional ticket machines.

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A new cycle hub with a repair shop and shower facilities would be built beside it and there would also be a sit-down café. Toilet facilities would be constructed on the adjoining platform 4.

Parking bays wwould be removed to lay down a wider, safe footpath to the entrance and create ‘a gateway to St Albans city centre’.

Other alterations include expanding the main entrance’s concourse and converting a staff area into a shop.

Canopies will be extended to shelter the full length of the platforms and a new waiting room created on the central platform.

Andrew added: “We want to make sure that we create a sense of community pride in the station building. We want a sensitive design.”

GTR has so far secured £350,000 made up of £200,000 from the Network Rail’s National Stations Improvement Programme and £150,000 from the company’s own Improving Station Facilities budget.

If all the finance is obtained and after station users have been consulted, works would begin in December 2016 and finish in May 2018, providing the landlord, Network Rail, agree to the changes.

The station currently copes with more than seven million passenger entries and exits a year – the highest in Herts.

Scrutiny committee chair, Councillor Anthony Rowlands,s aid: “As a regular user of St Albans City Rail Station, I am well aware that conditions have been unsatisfactory for many years. This work can’t come soon enough.

“The improvements, particularly the enlargement of the Ridgmont Road entrance, are long overdue.”

* GTR stakehholder manager Katherine Cox also briefed councillors on services on the Thameslink route over the festive season.

She said a Saturday service would run from Tuesday, December 29, to Thursday, December 31,on trains from Bedford into London. There are no trains on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

People travelling south of London to Gatwick and beyond face extra journey times of around an hour due to Network Rail works.

GTR local development manager Larry Heyman said the issue of driver shortages had improved and should be resolved by next summer.

Any cancellations caused by the problem over the Christmas period would be ‘few and far between’ with a ‘relatively minimal’ impact on daily journeys, he added.