Just over a year ago I outlined a vision to improve the infrastructure at Gloucester Railway Station. How have things progressed, or is it another bright idea that never quite happened?
The package was ambitious. It included working with different partners for a new car park on land owned by the Ministry of Justice, a new entrance to the station on its south side (for the first time in its c150 year history), a new road entry and exit from the existing car park directly onto Metz Way, improvements to the forecourt, a better station facade and consideration of an over pass across the station to the Glos Royal Hospital (GRH), rather than the current grizzly underpass. It was a vision full of potential disaster: too many cooks, no clear ownership and no particularly strong self incentive need for urgency for some..
It hinged on sorting the new car park on Great Western Road. This was complicated, needing a Ministry of Justice Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) sale to the Gloucester City Council and onward lease to Great Western Railways, with secure clauses about what would happen if in the future GWR no longer had the operating franchise in Gloucester. There were epic arguments about the value of the land - let no-one imagine that the MoJ sells at bargain basement prices. Without agreement on this there would be no opening of the station on the south side, no ability to alter the parking arrangements on the forecourt, or reduce peak time traffic exiting the station: and the whole case of transport led growth and regeneration would have died on its feet.
MPs have virtually no executive power, but we do have influence. So over the last year I've raised the Car Park several times formally at Justice and Leader of the House questions, and held a Westminster Hall debate. In early March there appeared to be a deadlock - but the smoke cleared, persistence paid off and last week the deal was confirmed.
I am very grateful, especially to the City Council, Great Western Rail, the MoJ and all my office for your patience and help. There remains some documentation that the city council is picking up on, but the deal is done: this is the end of the beginning. We will, by the end of December 2017, now have 220 new car park spaces and a new station entrance on Gt Western Road. The GWR already has planning application in, and I hope this is approved soon so that we can get a move on. There will need to be some consultations as well: but this project will be good for rail passengers, traffic flows, access to and from the Hospital and overall city growth and regeneration. I’m very grateful to all those involved for their hard work in making this happen.
Here are some quotes from my key partners in this project so far:
Matthew Golton, Commercial Development Director for GWR said: “This is excellent news for our customers, and brings a new car park for Gloucester station much closer. We'll continue to work with Gloucester Council, the Department for Transport and Richard Graham MP to deliver this much needed improvement for our customers.”
City Council Leader Paul James commented: “We're delighted to have been able to play a central role. This represents major investment in our city, and underlines the importance of the railway station to Gloucester and nearby residents. Linked to the new bus station this part of Gloucester is going to be transformed.” It is quite true that without the city council this deal could not have been done.
The next stage is another Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) bid to the government, and we don't yet have the date for that - but momentum is with us, and the opportunities opened up considerable. It also ties in with the city council led project for a brand new bus station that is under way.
Of course some friends say to me 'well great to have the station looking good, but what about the trains?' We'll get an additional direct Paddington service every hour from GWR in 2017, with an opportunity for quicker services from any electrification from Swindon through to Gloucester and Cheltenham. Welsh services remain as planned and I am battling away with Cross Country and the Transport Department to try and get more services to stop at Gloucester on the 'Inter City' service between Birmingham and Bristol. So your help signing the petition on my website (see www.richard.graham.org
) would also be very helpful. Thank you.
Do let me know what you think about this on email@example.com.