Southeastern and Network Rail have announced a £4.4 million package of station improvements across the network in Kent and south east London, with the aim being to imrpove customer information, enhance the condition of station buildings and make the railway more accessible for everyone who uses trains.
At Bexley, the existing accessible toilet will be refurbished ahead of the completion of a major Access for All (AfA) scheme, which will make the station step-free, with additional customer information displays added across the station. The staircase to the lower car park will also be refurbished.
Canterbury East will have access ramps refurbished, with the passenger information point on Platform 2 relocated to a location more suitable for the new footbridge, lifts and night entrance. New small ramps will make access to the waiting room easier for people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs. An additional passenger information point and customer information displays will also be included in the work.
Replacement of doors into the booking hall at Chatham will include new power-assisted doors to improve access to the new lifts, while an intercom system will be installed on the side gates from the car park to summon assistance from the car park areas. The booking hall and stairwells will be redecorated, with additional lighting on the stairs and around the arches on the platforms to improve the ambience of these locations.
Faversham will see general redecoration across the station.
The station building, booking hall and platforms at Herne Bay will also be redecorated in a nod to the distinctive architecture and heritage of the station, while work to remove the small step into the waiting room on platform 1 will be undertaken ahead of the planned AfA work to make the station step-free. The waiting room at this station will be re-opened for passenger use with focussing on the heating and lighting in this space.
Herne Bay’s toilets will also be refurbished with an improved accessible toilet, while additional customer information displays will be added at the out-of-hours entrance close to where the new footbridge will be located. A new customer help point will be added on platform 1.
At Hither Green the station will be treated to general redecoration, with additional customer information displays at the existing Springbank Road entrance up to Platform 1 and at both subway entrances. A new accessible toilet will be created at the station ahead of the planned AfA work to make the station step-free.
Further work at Margate will see a refurbishment of the booking hall and general decluttering, as well as historic restoration and improved staff accommodation to improve visibility for passengers. This will include work on the exterior of the building to return it to its original appearance and bringing back into use a retail unit.
Other stations set to see improvements with design work underway include Eltham, where the platform waiting areas and shelters are to be improved, Orpington, where the ladies’ toilets will be refurbished and Beckenham Junction where more space will be created in the booking hall, and the waiting room and toilets are to be refurbished.
At Woolwich Arsenal, the booking hall is planned to be rebuilt and extended while new flooring and lighting will also be fitted, with Staplehurst seeing improvements to the station building and accessibility improvements on the crossing point to the approach road.
Maze Hill will have the booking hall refurbished, while design work is underway at Canterbury West to ease congestion at this busy station.
David Wornham, Passenger Services Director for Southeastern, said:
“We want the best possible facilities for our customers across our network which is why we’ve targeted our investment at stations where work to improve accessibility is about to begin or has recently been completed as a result of government investment under the Access for All scheme.
“Making stations step-free isn’t just about new lifts and footbridges but often also about the smaller but just as important items such as removing barriers to the use of waiting rooms, and ensuring that customer help points and information screens are in the right places.
“Where possible, we’re also taking the opportunity to spruce up paintwork and improve the ambience of these stations, as well as taking the opportunity to plan for the future as people return to the railway.”
Fiona Taylor, Network Rail Kent route director, said: “We are delighted to be making a significant investment into improving a number of stations across Kent and south east London in partnership with our colleagues at Southeastern.
“We are committed to improving the facilities at our stations and want our passengers to have the best possible experience when travelling by rail. Many of these improvements will contribute towards passengers enjoying smoother, more pleasant journeys and improve many of the station facilities passengers should be able to expect on a modern fit for purpose railway.
“The accessibility of the railway remains a key focus and it’s great that much of this investment will go towards making the railway even more accessible including refurbishing accessible toilets at many of these stations and installing new and refurbishing existing ramps. This will be complimented by our plans to make a number of these stations fully accessible through the Government’s Access for All programme.”