Renovation work to ease congestion at St Albans City Station to start soon
- Credit: Archant
Construction work to improve overcrowding at St Albans City Station is about to begin.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) contractor Walker Construction is set to start the year-long rebuilding of St Albans City Station in August.
The designs, which aim to ease passenger congestion on platforms and improve facilities, are part of a £5 million project funded by the Department for Transport.
One unnamed premier-brand High Street convenience store will be taking over both the WHSmith and AMT Coffee spaces in the Station Way entrance.
This new shop will be extended over two floors - although the top storey will only be used for commercial storage.
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There will be more gates in an area of the Station Way building that is currently wasted, alongside the existing ticket booths.
Platform two/three will see a new walk-through waiting area designed to open up the passageway from the train carriages to the footbridge.
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Although the platform two/three toilets are being moved, there will be more restroom provision in the station overall, on platforms one and four.
The entrance on Ridgmont Road is being widened to facilitate more ticket machines and gates.
This will supersede the current cycle rack space, which is moving to a fenced area on Station Road in August.
As St Albans City Station is a hotspot for bike theft, GTR has been working with British Transport Police (BTP) to make this cycle storage more secure.
This includes CCTV on each individual rack, on top of staff patrols.
Platform four will also see a new staff building to replace rooms currently housed in the Station Way entrance.
GTR's senior project manager Julie Boyle said: "We've put a lot of work into developing these plans to give our passengers the very best scheme for this significant investment.
"St Albans is our busiest Thameslink station north of London with over 7.3million passengers every year.
"To help our customers, we've radically improved the service with brand new, longer, more frequent 12-coach trains.
"Now is the time to improve the station with new facilities and help passengers through the station during the rush hour."
To kick start the work, contractors will be drilling trial holes and taking detailed measurements to test the design.
Julie added: "The only disruption that passengers will face is on platform two and three. There will just be a change in what people see.
"For the benefits that passengers are going to get, it is a very short period of time and they will see an improvement in our facilities once they open. I think they will take it very positively."
The plans have been developed in consultation with St Albans district council (SADC).
Principal economic development officer at SADC, Maria Cutler, said: "It is great to see this investment going into the city station, including the infrastructure improvements and new cycling facilities.
"St Albans is a busy station for commuters, those on business and for those visiting our beautiful city.
"Having a smart station with decent facilities, at an important gateway to the city, is important."
Work on platforms two and three is scheduled to start in August, and it should all be finished by July 2020.
In a separate project to also relieve congestion, Network Rail plans to build a second footbridge at St Albans City Station once the GTR work is finished.
This comes as GTR sees passenger numbers double in 14 years and after major timetable disruption exacerbated congestion last May.
Commuters battled with daily cancellations, delays and overcrowding at the station - which is the busiest on the GTR line north of London, but which has one of the smallest footprints.
GTR has recently asked passengers and stakeholders to suggest how a £15 million pot of money should be used to compensate people using stations affected by the timetable chaos, including St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett.
Daisy Cooper, founder of the St Albans Commuter and Passenger Action Group on Facebook, said: "Our members have consistently called for more station exits since our group was formed so the station redevelopment is good news, but we'll be keeping a watchful eye to make sure the plans stay on track, happen as quickly as possible, and with as little disruption as possible for station users and businesses."