To complement what Russ is saying in the earlier article is a second report about KCC and TDC’s continued commitment to building Thanet Parkway Rail Station (originally Manston Parkway) despite increased costs.
The station will reduce travel times to London with the aim of passengers reaching Stratford International in around an hour.
Work is expected to start in 2018 with the station opening in January 2019.
This is a very important piece of infrastructure for a re-opened airport and needs our support.
Kent County and Thanet District councils have vowed to forge ahead with plans for a major new station near Cliffsend despite rising project costs.
The Thanet Parkway Station, first mooted in 2011, would be a two-platform station built by the Sevenscore roundabout.
The aim is for passengers to reach Stratford International from the parkway stop in around an hour after its expected opening in January 2019.
KCC says it will facilitate more than 100,000 journeys by 2021 and forecast that almost 50,000 trips currently taken from Ramsgate station every year and 16,000 from Sandwich would instead be made from the parkway.
The original estimated cost of the project was £11.2 million but documents from a SE England Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) and Kent & Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP) meeting earlier this year, suggest estimates have now risen by a massive 136% to £26 million.
In 2014 the Government agreed to pay £10 million of the cost of building the station through its Regional Growth Scheme.
The SELEP and KMEP reports, which say the Parkway scheme has a £14million budget, now designates the project as having a “current funding gap and value for money uncertainty.”
Papers from the KMEP say the project, which is due to start in March 2018, needs more cash, stating: “Recent cost estimates are significantly in excess of the £14m budget. Options are currently being explored to bridge the funding gap.”
A Selep report says: “Key risk issues currently unresolved – implications for programme.”
Green Party member Ian Driver says the project should be abandoned because of the mounting costs projections.
He said: “With building costs now estimated at £26million, KCC and Thanet Council would need to find £16 million to plug the funding gap – a highly unlikely prospect given the huge budget reductions which have been forced upon the two local authorities.
“This is one of KCC’s most important and prestigious transport projects. Information on this astronomic rise in estimated construction costs has been available since January, yet not a single one of Thanet’s eight KCC councillors has made any public statement about it.
“Thanet council’s Joint Transportation Board is supposed to consider transport works programmes and be a forum for consultation between KCC and TDC on policies, plans and strategies for public transport – yet it appears the Board has not discussed this at any of its recent meetings.
“I have always argued that Thanet Parkway Station is a massive white elephant which is not needed. It will actually increase journey times from existing Thanet stations to Canterbury, Ashford and London, and it could ultimately lead to the closure of some of Thanet’s town stations”.
Mr Driver also claims that building the station will cause substantial environmental damage with a huge area of farmland concreted over to accommodate the platforms, 350 space car park and approach roads.
A Kent County Council spokesman denied the project was facing a £26 million cost.
He said:”Outline design work on Thanet Parkway project continues and a second public consultation is due to be held shortly.
“The current cost estimate for construction is £16 million and whilst work on the design progresses, we are looking for additional funding from various sources to add to the £10 million provisionally allocated to the project through the Local Growth Fund.
“The Parkway Station will have an enormous, positive impact on Thanet and the surrounding area by creating new jobs and regenerating the area.”
Abigail Raymond – Head of Built Environment, Thanet District Council, added: “TDC and KCC will continue to work in partnership to ensure the delivery of Thanet Parkway which is essential to Thanet’s future economic growth.
“The Parkway will reduce journey times to London to less than an hour, so will be a real game changer in altering investor’s perceptions of Thanet’s accessibility.”