Access scheme for lifts and ramps at Biggleswade railway station could begin next year

Biggleswade Railway Station. PIC: Tony MargiocchiBiggleswade Railway Station. PIC: Tony Margiocchi
Biggleswade Railway Station. PIC: Tony Margiocchi
A new costings package and detailed design set to be drawn up in November

Hopes are high it could be full steam ahead for a project to provide disabled lifts and ramps at Biggleswade railway station, a town council meeting heard.

Final approval for the funding is still to be confirmed by Network Rail, but a positive outcome could emerge as early as December with a provisional start in the New Year.

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A new costings package and the detailed design are set to be drawn up in November, according to town councillor Madeline Russell.

More than half a million pounds of savings were planned on the scheme from its initial ambitions, she had informed the council previously.

Rising costs imposed budgetary pressures on Network Rail and the cuts would prevent other projects being scrapped, the company had warned.

“Strong words” were exchanged at an Access for All meeting in February, councillor Russell indicated at that time.

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Reporting on the group’s latest discussions, she said: “The Network Rail team is still preparing the detailed design.

“It expects to have that finished with the new costings by the end of November. The committee which needs to give the final financial approval at the company meets on December 19.

“So hopefully after that, the firm will be given the go ahead with this new design. That includes the staircases, as well as the lifts because we had an issue before about the staircases potentially being removed.

“The company hopes to start on site in January doing some enabling work. It’s a long project, but it should be finished and available for use by the end of December 2024.”

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There was also a report from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) about the new toilets at the railway station, which opened in June, she told the town council.

“They’re only available for use when the station is staffed,” explained councillor Russell. “That’s an issue, and staffing hours will be reviewed depending on the ticket office consultation taking place nationally.

“This affects the lifts, as well as the toilets, which will also only be available if the station is staffed. We wait to hear from GTR, probably not until next spring, about how that will proceed.

“The Biggleswade transport interchange scheme was discussed because its development is in conjunction with the Access for All project.

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“Apparently a problem being experienced is where the cambers of the two different roads meet, so that’s Station Road and the exit for the buses.

“There’s a dip where these meet, which means when the bus front wheels go into the dip it causes further back on the vehicle to ground. It’s been used by coaches, but those vehicles have a higher suspension.

“The contractor Galliford Try is planning to remedy the issue, although we don’t have a date for opening.”

Councillor Russell added: “Work at the Lindsells Crossing site will involve ramps on the eastern side being lifted into place next month.

“At Christmas, when possession of the railway line is possible, the western ramps will be lifted over the track. The crossing is expected to reopen by the end of March 2024.”