Is cash shortfall the problem almost a year after councillor said plans are still ‘on track’?
WORK has been halted on the construction of Stanford-le-Hope’s new rail station – with no estimate of when it might resume.
Earlier this year a demolition team moved in and removed most of the existing buildings and station refreshment kiosk with pedestrian diversions, temporary ticket offices and machines put in place.
Speculation has been growing in the town about what is happening with the redevelopment which is being managed by Thurrock Council and part-funded by money from DP World London Gateway Port which it committed to the council as part of its original planning permission.
Nearby residents have been told by engineers who have visited the site that the halt has been caused because the council has been unable to complete an agreement with a construction company because of the cost. Local councillors say they have heard the same thing but asked the Thurrock Independent to contact the authority’s press office for a statement.
It is believed locally that Thurrock Council has massively underestimated the cost of the scheme, particularly in relation to extending the bridge and creating more space by covering the adjacent river.
Commuters have been complaining on social media about the difficulties in using the station, with ticket machines not working and problematic access.
The rail line which the station services is operated by c2c but they have declined to comment, saying the matter is the responsibility of Thurrock Council.
Today the council gave the Thurrock Independent this statement, attributed to Cllr Mark Coxshall, the council’s portfolio holder for regeneration: “We remain fully committed to delivering this important scheme, which will provide significant improvements for passengers and the wider community, and work on the project is continuing.
“Given the constraints of the site, construction works must be carefully sequenced to minimise disruption.
“We are currently addressing the condition of the existing road bridge and awaiting a report that will inform the full extent of works required. This has resulted in a pause in work on site, but we are working hard to ensure we can proceed again as soon as possible. In the meantime, vital work off site continues.”
It’s almost a year since Cllr Coxshall last commented on the delayed and apparently troublesome station scheme. In July last year he told the Thurrock Independent that the station was on track to be completed by September 2019.
In a statement very similar to that issued today, he said costs and design were still to be finalised and added: “Plans to redevelop Stanford-le-Hope Railway Station will improve transport connections and access to rail services for passengers.
“We started preparatory works earlier this year to ensure the site is ready for construction. The design and build contractor has been appointed and detailed designs and costs for the scheme are currently being finalised.”
Eleven months on, it seems other than flattening most of the buildings, very little has changed.