East Grinstead station renovation is entering its final stages
TWO years in the making, the final phase of a multi-million pound regeneration of East Grinstead train station is under way.
Southern Rail has already completed the £2.1 million station building, which is next to the original one on Firbank Way.
The next stage of the redevelopment is adding an extra level to the current upper car park, taking the number of spaces from 236 to 336.
Builders will be installing a single deck over the car park, which will be prefabricated off-site, with the actual construction on-site being kept to a minimum.
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This will cost in excess of £1 million and the project managers hope to be able to open the completed site by the end of the year.
Councillor Heidi Brunsdon is impressed with the revamp so far.
She said: "The town needs this improvement. I am happy with the progress that has been made and hope residents, commuters and visitors enjoy the benefits of this station."
The old station building will be demolished after the new one and the car park are fully operational. This is scheduled for March 2013.
Simon Kerr, from the town's tourism initiative, is looking forward to the benefits it will bring.
He said: "All the improvements to the station quarter at East Grinstead are going to be a plus for the town.
"We'll have a brand new state-of-the-art station to enable commuters to have a better travelling experience to work, plus the very real bonus of welcoming people coming down the line to transfer to the town's heritage steam railway at the Bluebell station.
"I'm just so glad that it's all coming together at the right time."
However, many residents remain angered the new station will not have disabled access to Platform 1.
A Southern spokeswoman said only six trains a day came into Platform 1 adding: "We were unable to get a grant from the Department for Transport (DfT) for lifts on Platform 1 because it factors in the amount of footfall that would use this platform, and it appeared disproportionate.
"In an ideal world we would have been able to put lifts on both platforms, but this was just not possible."
DfT provided £370 million of funding for lift schemes across the south east between 2005 and 2015, but East Grinstead station was not included.
To see the plans for the car park and talk to the project managers, visit the main car park at East Grinstead station today (Thursday) between 4.30 and 8pm.