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"Drab" Cheltenham railway station could be revamped

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: December 28, 2011

contract bid:  Cheltenham Spa Railway Station

contract bid: Cheltenham Spa Railway Station

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TRAIN users have welcomed a scheme which could revamp Cheltenham's "drab" railway station and turn it into a facility fit for the 21st century.

The tender to run the station has been put out and Cheltenham Borough Council wants the winning bid to bring "a sense of grandeur" befitting the town.

Councillor John Rawson said the council wanted to see an improved layout for cars, buses, taxis, pedestrians and cyclists and more car parking, possibly with a decked car park.

Other potential alterations could mean longer platforms to ease congestion, an extension of the Honeybourne Line cycle route to Lansdown Road and the renovation of the station building, restoring the old portico, which was removed in 1961.

The changes have been prompted by news of a more frequent service to London, as the line between Swindon and Kemble is doubled.

Landlord of the Midland Hotel, John Dix, said: "Events like race days see thousands of people through the station. We are unbelievably busy, with capacity constantly full.

"We can bring in four months' revenue in just four days in March and last year we sold nearly 30,000 pints in that time. The festivals, football and rugby matches all see the station used well and is a benefit we definitely recognise."

Student Alex Poad, 19, of Roman Road, is a regular train user as he goes shopping in Gloucester. He said the station was "drab".

"It would be good to restore it to its Victorian past, as long as fares do not go up. Public transport is expensive enough," he said. "The train station is well used and I try to avoid it on race days because it is so ridiculously busy."

Football fan Gary Welsh, from the Prior's Estate, travels across the country by rail as a Liverpool Football Club season ticket-holder.

The 41-year-old machine operator said it needed tidying up, adding: "It would be nice to see some of its original character stay with the station and it is in need of modernisation.

"The toilets need modifying and it would be good if there could be more security in place for bikes.

"When it is busy, the platform can be a nightmare. It is okay for me on my own, but I feel for those with children and OAPs."

Mr Rawson, cabinet member for built environment, said the Government shake-up of the rail franchise was a major opportunity for the town.

He said: "Cheltenham Spa is a thriving station in terms of passenger numbers, but the station is a disappointment and hardly gives visitors the right message about Cheltenham.

"We want it to be a station fit for the 21st century.

"It used to be a grand and elegant building and it could be again."

The Regency building at the station was designed by architect Samuel Whitfield Daukes.

Bids to run the station, currently managed by First Great Western, have to be submitted by March 31.

The new contract will run from April 2013 for at least 15 years.

OPINION, P8

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  • Msevern  |  December 30 2011, 7:25PM

    CJBritton. In an ideal world the Council may have some input into how the ORR and SRA run the rail network but unfortunately that's simply not the case. And I can assure you what I say about FGW wanting out because they are now at the stage where they would actually be making payments and have the opt out clause before that happens is true. 15 years in the rail industry leaves me with some internal contacts still.

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  • cjbritton  |  December 28 2011, 6:37PM

    tommadeit - your comments sound very silly - anyway Cheltenham already has a much larger and nicer cinema then Gloucester... Msevern - as part of the tender the company who takes out the contract will have to carry out works to improve (which may be done at cost to the council). As for First Great Western wanting out - there is nothing saying they do - it's simply the contract runs for a 15 year period. There was an article a while back stating that it was likely the council would want to ensure improvements were made as part of the contract when it runs out in 2013. This sounds very good for Cheltenham - a nicer station with better facilites.

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  • Msevern  |  December 28 2011, 4:48PM

    The platforms cannot be extended due to the bridge at the North end and the track layout at the South end so that's a no go. The cost of restoring the station to some quaint and twee image would be exorbitant and maintenance costs would increase, ruling that out. The whole reason FGW want out of the contract is that they can't make money now they have to start paying the Government as in the terms of the current franchise. The franchises negotiated were loaded ridiculously in favour of the train operators meaning that the Government paid them huge amounts in the early years of the franchise and then gave them a get out clause when the franchisee was expected to start making payments to the Government. No work will be done at the station that the new franchisee is not obligated to carry out under the terms of the franchise so forget about it.

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  • DG9999  |  December 28 2011, 2:09PM

    Forget the decked car park-nobody will pay to use it when they can park in the surrounding streets all day from early in the morning-sometimes half on the pavements-for nothing, as they do now!

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  • tommadeit  |  December 28 2011, 1:23PM

    The main problem with Cheltenham Station is that it is far too near Cheltenham. We really need a Cheltenham Parkway Station just near J10 of the Motorway. Charges of up to £10 per day per car could then be made and a shuttle bus from the station could run every 43 minutes to the centre of Cheltenham (well where the station is now). The old station could then be called the Old Station Quarter with 100 retails Units, 23 restaurants and a 10 screen cinema. Brilliant!!!!

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  • tommadeit  |  December 28 2011, 1:18PM

    I suggest that it is renamed the Station Quarter and has incorporated 100 retails units including 27 restaurant units and a 10 screen cinema. This seems to be working very well very well at the Quays in Gloucester so why not here?

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