The first slice of a multi-million pound cash injection to improve Cambridge railway station has been handed to Network Rail after a deal to build student accommodation as part of the CB1 redevelopment was finalised.
Network Rail has secured £4.5m of private investment as part of an agreement with developers Brookgate, whose 26-acre CB1 redevelopment will include a radically improved transport interchange in the heart of Cambridge and a major refurbishment of the city’s station.
Under the terms of the agreement, Network Rail received £2.2m when the deal to build new halls of residence was reached earlier this month, with the remainder of the cash to be released as and when subsequent CB1 development phases get the green light. The three student buildings for Anglia Ruskin University will total 140,000 sq ft and provide 511 en-suite bedrooms in 112 studios and 399 apartments. In addition there will be 8,859 sq ft of retail space for letting. Construction started earlier this month for completion in summer 2012.
Network Rail will use the money to create a much larger and better ticket hall as well as other improvements linked to the public realm enhancements being delivered by Brookgate outside the station. A key goal of the station and station square improvements will be to make journeys easier for people changing from trains to buses, bikes or taxis.
Andrew Munden, Network Rail route director for Anglia, said: “This is a fantastic example of how Network Rail can work with the private sector to secure investment in the railway, delivering improvements at no cost to taxpayers or the travelling public. Private investment like this saves taxpayers money and helps keep fares down.
“Cambridge’s economy relies on rail, with more than seven million journeys to and from the city’s station each year. The improvements we plan to make will cater for forecast growth in passenger numbers and help make rail a seamless part of people’s journeys in and out of Cambridge.”
The news comes less then a month before work starts on Network Rail’s £16.7m scheme to increase capacity at Cambridge with the addition of a new island platform, complete with footbridge and lifts.
The scheme is scheduled for completion in time for the December timetable change, which will see the introduction of 50% longer National Express East Anglia trains on key commuter services between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street.
Mr Munden continued: “As passenger numbers continue to grow it’s essential that we maintain investment in our rail network. The new platforms at Cambridge will make a real difference to passengers, boosting capacity on this busy line, improving punctuality and reducing overcrowding further still.”
The new platforms are crucial to train operator National Express East Anglia’s plans to improve train services and provide more seats for passengers on the West Anglia route in 2011, with the introduction of new, longer trains now under construction. Today, services between Cambridge and the capital are very busy and the existing track layout in and around the station is constrained, especially at peak times.
Adding two new 270m bi-directional platforms – numbered 7 and 8 – means trains can arrive and depart in either direction, freeing up vital capacity on the existing platforms and making sure Cambridge can cater for additional rail services in the future.
A new covered footbridge and lifts will connect the new platforms to the rest of the station, making life easier for those who find the stairs a struggle. After consultation with local cycling groups, the staircases will include cycle guttering to help cycle users move around the station.