A multi-million pound project that has seen major improvements made to train stations across England and Wales is being celebrated this week.
Minister of State for Transport the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP will be guest of honour at an event at Warrington Central, the 150th station to benefit from the National Stations Improvement Programme (NSIP).
Since it was launched two years ago with £150m of Government funding, the cross-industry programme has brought better stations to hundreds of thousands of passengers. To date, £61m of the £150m has been spent, meaning many more stations will see improvements in the next few years.
- Better accessibility, with more ramps and DDA-compliant facilities
- Better customer information screens
- Refurbished ticket offices and booking halls
- Installation of CCTV to improve security
- New public toilets, cafes and waiting rooms
On Thursday 7th July, Ms Villiers will officially unveil the work completed at Warrington Central under NSIP. Led by First TransPennine Express, which manages the station, the improvements mean passengers can now enjoy a new station entrance and refurbished station interior, including DDA-compliant windows. As well as NSIP funding of more than £400,000, Warrington Borough Council provided £300,000 funding to deliver the improvements.
Co-chairs of the NSIP Board, Tom Smith, Chairman of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), and Mike Goggin, Network Rail's Director of Stations and Customer Service, will be joined by representatives from the council and First Group and by Warrington South MP David Mowat to welcome Ms Villiers to the celebratory event.
Tom Smith said: "Sir Roy McNulty's recent review into how the railways can become more efficient called for better alignment and cooperation within the industry. NSIP is a great example of what the industry has already achieved by working together, both at a national and local level.
"Train companies and Network Rail have worked closely with each other and with councils and other local groups to ensure that improvements made to stations are those that benefit passengers most, and that they deliver value for money.
"Thanks to the funding it has attracted from local authorities and other organisations, NSIP will far exceed the original objective of improving 150 stations, meaning thousands more passengers will see the benefits, and taxpayers' money will go much further."
Mike Goggin added: "We know that partnership working holds the key to better stations and to better journeys. NSIP is a great example of how close collaboration with councils and other organisations, as well as colleagues across the rail industry, can deliver far greater benefits for passengers and for local communities."
Ms Villiers said: "Train travel continues to grow in popularity which is why the Government is committed to continued investment in the railways. Large-scale initiatives such as Crossrail, Thameslink, High Speed Rail and our plans to introduce an extra 2,100 carriages onto the rail network by 2019 aim to improve travel for passengers and stimulate wider economic growth.
"The National Stations Improvement Programme is a vital part of our overall investment because it helps to transform individual passengers' experiences. I am delighted that we have reached this important milestone because it means hundreds of thousands of passengers are now benefitting from better facilities and hence better rail journeys."
Vernon Barker, Managing Director of First TransPennine Express said: "We are delighted that Warrington Central is the 150th station to be completed under the NSIP programme which has improved station access on our network and at stations around the country.
"Customers using Warrington Central will really benefit from these improvements. Not only does the station now look a lot more attractive but it is fully accessible for all and the customer facilities are excellent. The works will definitely complement the previous advancements such as the waiting areas, customer amenities and lift installations.
"The investment provided by ourselves, NSIP and Warrington Borough Council will certainly pay dividends and I'd like to thank customers for their patience whilst we have worked to deliver a first class station for them."
Cllr Terry O'Neill, Leader of Warrington Borough Council, said: "The works undertaken at Central Station offer our residents and regular commuters access to better facilities and give those visiting us for the first time a warmer welcome to Warrington. Thanks to this scheme and the previous installation of lifts, the station is now fully accessible for all users and the council has been pleased to be able to work in such close partnership with the rail industry to deliver these major improvements. I'd also like to thank Golden Square, the nearby shopping centre, for their contribution to the latest improvements."
David Mowat, MP for Warrington South said: "The work that has been done at Central Station has transformed the front of the station almost beyond recognition and visitors to Warrington from Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds will now recognise Warrington as a great place to live and to do business in."