New rail station platform

By James HoreFURIOUS commuters have criticised rail bosses after a plan for a vital, second platform at a town's train station was thrown into doubt.

By James Hore

FURIOUS commuters have criticised rail bosses after a plan for a vital, second platform at a town's train station was thrown into doubt.

Colchester Town Station is vital for bringing visitors into the historic town from places such as Walton on the Naze, Frinton and Clacton. With traffic often causing congestion and delays, rail is seen as a vital for the future prosperity for businesses and tourism.

A second platform was proposed as part of the redevelopment of the Colchester Garrison and costs were drawn up by Network Rail's predecessor, Railtrack.

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It was felt a second platform would have allowed more trains in and out of the station, instead of the current arrangements that only permit one train to come in before it has to reverse out again.

But the Essex Rail Users' Federation claimed yesterday that the plan for a second platform had been "scuppered" by Network Rail.

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Derek Monnery, federation chairman, said: "The development is under way, the sum to extend the station has been paid by the developer and soon extra commuter traffic from the barrack development will be using the station.

"Now Network Rail has scuppered the agreement, saying that money for the extra platform is insufficient. They will not discuss the subject and are not interested in proceeding with the project.

"This is outrageous. Colchester badly needs the station extension. Is no-one going to kick some backsides hard and get this vital piece of infrastructure built? Why should Colchester pay for someone else's mistakes?"

Essex County Council – which is responsible for the project - will meet today representatives from Network Rail, who will report on the feasibility of various ideas for the branch line, including the second platform.

But a spokeswoman said Network Rail had only been involved in an advisory capacity and added discussions were at an early stage.

"Essex County Council have approached us for a number of different suggestions for the railway, one of those is a platform at Colchester Town Station," said the spokeswoman.

"They have asked us to go away and do a feasibility study as they need to have an idea of costs – no option has been ruled out or accepted."

She added there was no evidence of an agreement made by the predecessors, Railtrack, and said if the cost had been informally agreed, it would have changed over time.

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council said: "The main priority for us is to get Essex moving and to help people use public transport more – we will have to see what the outcome of the meeting is."

Ian Vipond, of Colchester Borough Council said: "Network Rail and the county council have been looking at the whole of the Clacton branch line from Colchester.

"We are more than pleased with the work that team has been doing to try to secure the best possible range of facilities on that line."

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