Extended hours at Colchester Park and Ride will challenge ‘monopoly’ of station parking

Councillor Ian Grundy and David Cohen, capital project manager at CHUFT, agree a deal for Colchester

Councillor Ian Grundy and David Cohen, capital project manager at CHUFT, agree a deal for Colchester's Park and Ride. Picture: EAST NEWS - Credit: Eastnews Press Agency

A trial of extended opening hours at Colchester’s Park and Ride will benefit rail users by ending the “monopoly” of railway station parking.

Essex County Council unveiled this morning a package of measures to improve the service at the transport hub.

Chief among them is a one-year pilot, starting in the Spring, of extended opening hours from 5.30am to 9pm, up from the existing 7am-7pm.

This will allow London commuters to use the facility and still be able to catch peak-time trains to the capital.

Other measures include bulk ticket discounts for businesses, with Colchester General Hospital the first to sign up – meaning it will now offer 50% off tickets to its staff who use the service, and who may also benefit from the extended hours.

Colchester MP Will Quince at the town's Park and Ride. Picture: EAST NEWS

Colchester MP Will Quince at the town's Park and Ride. Picture: EAST NEWS - Credit: Eastnews Press Agency


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Also introduced was a £5 off-peak group travel ticket, which can be used for up to two adults and three children, aimed at family groups or car-shares.

Colchester MP Will Quince, speaking at the event at the Park and Ride this morning, said: “This is an exciting change for Colchester.

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“At the moment Greater Anglia and NCP have a monopoly at Colchester Station. Commuters pay £9 per day or £35 per week and even then you still park some distance from the station. £3 per day here represents a significant saving for Colchester rail users.

“But it’s not just rail users who will benefit. Those working in the town centre with longer hours will too, and every car we take off the road will ease congestion around the town.”

Colchester's Park and Ride. Picture: EAST NEWS

Colchester's Park and Ride. Picture: EAST NEWS - Credit: Eastnews Press Agency

Ian Grundy, county councillor for highways, said other measures were also being considered, such as Park and Cycle or Park and Fly, Sunday opening, and a season ticket for football supporters visiting the nearby Colchester United stadium.

He said: “The original prediction was it would take six to eight years for this to break even. The pressure on resources means we would like to accelerate this, which can only be good news for users.

“The Park and Ride is here to help tackle the issue of congestion around the town centre, which costs Colchester’s businesses and residents more than £20million.”

David Cohen, capital project manager at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said it already offered staff 50% off bus travel, and would be doing the same for Park and Ride – topping up the discount price it receives from the county council.

He said this not only made it affordable, but with the extended opening hours made the service accessible for almost all shifts, as well as patients and visitors.

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