Tuesday January 22 2019

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In Full . . .

Stations stand-off

Posted on January 30 2018 at 3:49:45


Villagers press for action as rail bosses say: there’s no money

Five years after Network Rail pledged to complete the car park at Alvechurch railway station, councillors are ramping up their campaign to get the work done.

The car park’s surface is in such a poor state due to potholes and flooding that there is not enough space for rail users to park, leading some to leave their vehicles along the station entrance and in surrounding roads.

A recent incident saw an ambulance struggle to access the station.

Councillors say that the work to drain, resurface and mark out of the car park was promised as part of the planning approval for the station upgrade project, but Network Rail admitted in July 2016 that funds had run out.

Alvechurch district councillor Kate Van Der Plank told parish council colleagues that she had asked Bromsgrove District Council’s planning department for assistance:

“The planners say there is nothing they can do because it’s at the discretion of Network Rail – but the council’s legal team is now investigating, as is the Planning Inspectorate at Bristol.

“What with the Barnt Green lifts situation, we can’t have two local stations without proper disabled access.”

A Network Rail spokesperson told The Village: “We are continuing to repair the free-of-charge car park at Alvechurch station. This includes filling in pot holes as and when they arise. The car park is gravel so there are no line markings.

“Contrary to claims, we have never had any funding in this five-year regulatory period, 2014 to 2019, to deliver the £750,000 drainage and surfacing scheme required to fully remove the ‘lake of Alvechurch’ flooding problem, which is caused by underlying clay preventing rainfall running away.

“As a taxpayer-funded organisation we are simply not able to spend such a large sum of money without allocated funds. We have told local councillors this, adding that if local funding can be found then we’d gladly deliver it jointly.

“In the absence of funding we have carried out some interim work to help ease the problem. This means flooding, when it does occur, now drains off after a few days rather than staying for many weeks or even months.”

Meanwhile, Barnt Green Parish Council had a meeting with Network Rail to discuss its failure to instal lifts. Parish chairman Robert Cholmondeley told colleagues:

“The good news is that they say we will get the lifts, possibly in 2020, but they can’t give us a definite date – and they can’t even tell us when we will get a definite date.

“Their original budget figures seem to have been arbitrary – they didn’t factor in all the work it would take to install the lifts. I have told them that the parish council has no faith in what they say.”

A Network Rail spokesman told The Village: “We are currently working on a plan to improve access to platforms and trains at Barnt Green station.

Lifts are part of this upgrade but for them to be installed, a wider package of improvements is needed.

Funding would need to be secured for the additional work and we are looking at how this would be made possible.

“We intend to improve access at the station so everyone can use the railway and we continue to work closely with the DfT and the Office of Rail and Road on this issue.”

The parish council has also given the new train operator, West Midlands Railway, a list of improvements to be made, including lighting, rail squeal and resolving the ticket machine access for disabled passengers.

Above left: Alvechurch Station car park. Above right: Barnt Green’s footbridge - without lifts.

I’ll do all I can, vows MP

Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid called a meeting with four senior managers of Network Rail (below) to seek action over both the car park at Alvechurch and the lack of lifts at Barnt Green.

Mr Javid said: “I made it absolutely clear that the delays were unacceptable. Network Rail committed to doing some works in coming weeks to fill potholes and to prioritise the marking of disabled car parking bays at Alvechurch station.

“I was not given an assurance that the lift at Barnt Green would be done soon, but Network Rail committed to get back to me.

“I will continue to do all I can,” he added.


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