Plans have been unveiled for a multi-million pound investment to revamp Port Talbot railway station.
Neath Port Talbot Council in partnership with Arriva Trains Wales and Network Rail will submit a bid to the Welsh Assembly Government’s Wales Station Improvement programme for European funding to build a new state of the art station building fit for the 21st century.
Plans include a new enclosed footbridge with lifts providing step free access to the platform. There will be a new ticket office and waiting areas as well as a café and retail area, new toilets and improvements to customer information and CCTV. The development includes a 200 space car park with a park and ride for commuters along with improved facilities for cyclists, bus passengers and taxis.
The project will be jointly managed by Neath Port Talbot Council, Arriva Trains Wales, Network Rail and the Welsh Assembly Government.
Residents and passengers can see the design proposals at a public exhibition being held in the waiting room of the railway station in the morning, in the Aberavon Shopping Centre in the afternoon and in the civic centre in Port Talbot for a couple of weeks.
Visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to have their say on the designs, complete a questionnaire with their views and leave comments which will then be fed back into the proposals.
The plans are also on the Council’s website where people can leave their comments online.
In line with Welsh Assembly Government guidelines, the proposals will take account of equality principles, so the Council is seeking views from various groups including disabled, Welsh Language, lone parents and those not in work to ensure the transport needs of all are addressed.
Work on the station is expected to start in spring 2012 and will take around 18 months to complete.
Council Leader, Ali Thomas, said, “This exciting project will tie in with the ongoing regeneration plans for Port Talbot.
“The proposals will be a major boost to the town centre and totally revamp the lower end of Station Road, which is much needed. It will complement the Harbour Way link road and help to draw in investment to open up the derelict dockland for office and business development.
“Improvements at Port Talbot Parkway are long overdue, particularly in respect of disabled rail users. Now I am pleased to see that passengers and visitors will benefit from a modern and integrated railway system that reflects the heritage and aspirations of the town.”
Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones said, “When I launched the Wales Station Enhancement programme last year I invited bids, such as this one from Neath Port Talbot, with the aim of transforming passengers’ travel experience and more importantly, opening up new opportunities for the areas involved.
“I am pleased to hear that the bid is progressing well and I am sure the design proposals will attract a lot of interest from the local community.
“Sustained investment in rail, as well as improvements to our infrastructure like the Harbour Way link, will be vital in helping unleash the economic potential of South Wales and the Valleys.”
Ian Bullock, Customer Services Director Arriva Trains Wales said: “Arriva Trains Wales are a proud participant in the unveiling of the Port Talbot development plans.
“The event will actively seek to engage with all people, irrespective of disability, gender and race and will help ensure the needs of all people are taken into account in the redevelopment which we hope will encourage more people to travel by train”.
Mark Langman, Route Director for Network Rail said: “This proposal is driven by a vision to transform the railway in Wales and, if delivered, will mark a huge improvement for Port Talbot. Support from the people of the town is vital to make this possible and we welcome the public in having their say today.
“The proposed station improvements, combining the recent investment to modernise the signalling infrastructure, will cater to a growing passenger demand and encourage sustainable travel, whilst improving the environment and socio-economics of the town.”