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31 January 2012
The final tranche of a £100m fund to improve stations in England and Wales has been announced, giving Network Rail, train companies, local authorities and other organisations another chance to submit bids for funding.
Since the station commercial project facility was launched by the Department for Transport, Network Rail and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) in April 2011, more than £80m has been authorised for projects ranging from car parks and park-and-ride schemes to new retail space and station redevelopments.
The latest bids to get the green light were for an enhancement project at Wakefield Kirkgate, plus a 710 space multi-storey car park at Bristol Parkway. The two schemes take the total for the second tranche of successful bids to £60m, in addition to the £21m authorised in the first tranche.
The third and final bidding round opens on 1 February and run for four weeks, with a total of £18.7m available to fund improvement projects which deliver a financial return over and above project costs.
Rail minister Norman Baker said: “Rail travel is not only about the time spent sitting on a train. Pleasant, attractive railway stations with the right facilities encourage more people to travel by rail.
“This coalition government's Station Improvement Fund has so far seen £80m awarded to 38 stations and we are now making available another £20m to renovate and rebuild even more stations left to us by our Victorian forefathers.”
Robin Gisby, managing director, network operations at Network Rail, said: "This is a fantastic example of the rail industry, local authorities and other organisations working together to improve the passenger experience without increasing the burden on the taxpayer.
"Following this final round of bids we will have successfully allocated £100m towards projects to which will make travelling by rail better and will generate a substantial return on investment."
Alec McTavish, director of policy and operations at ATOC, said: “The whole industry is committed to working together more effectively in order to deliver a more efficient railway. This funding scheme is exactly the sort of vehicle that brings the benefits of closer working to the fore, as we have seen from projects already completed under the programme.
“The benefits to passengers from the improvements that have been to stations and other rail facilities are clear, but equally important are the benefits to taxpayers. Bidders have to prove that the improvements will generate more money in the long term for the government and therefore reduce the need for taxpayer subsidy in the future. It's good news that this final round of funding will give further opportunities to deliver schemes that are good for both passengers and taxpayers.”