Safety fears for Severn Tunnel Station
CONCERNS have been raised over passengers' safety during the planned redevelopment of Severn Tunnel Station.
Community councillors, county officials and councillors, along with a representative from Arriva Trains Wales and the Severn Tunnel Action Group (STAG), met with Network Rail at Severn Tunnel Junction Station last week to discuss potential problems.
The aim of the meeting was to consider the plans Network Rail have for replacing two bridges and the ticket office at the station.
The current footbridge and ticket office are being replaced under a Department for Transport "Access for All" mobility programme. It will also be raised to meet the needs for the electrification of the line at a total cost of £6.7million.
The road bridge that leads to the toll booths on the M4 is also being replaced and raised as part of upgrades to the route from London Paddington to Swansea.
Among several issues raised by STAG was one regarding the safety of pedestrians and cyclists on the entrance lane to the car park. Pedestrian concerns are regularly voiced to ticket office staff and STAG.
The replacement of the two bridges will involve the opening up of a road under the roadbridge during the work to be undertaken. The road will be for Network Rail vehicle use only, and the plans are to close it at the end of the construction projects, likely to be in 2017.
STAG believes that, for little cost, the route could be left open, and a one-way system of road traffic introduced, making access safer.
Network Rail currently insist that because of budget and project constraints, along with safety issues connected with rail services travelling through the Severn Tunnel, such work cannot be considered.
STAG is now taking this up with politicians in an attempt to seek a resolve to passenger concerns.
During the meeting other concerns such as lack of car and cycle parking, the small amount of shelter for passengers, the proposed size of the ticket office, signage, and departure board locations were all discussed.
Users of the station come from as far away as Cardiff, Ross-on-Wye, Chepstow and the Forest of Dean. Around seventy per cent of rail passengers travel from Severn Tunnel Junction in the direction of Bristol.
Rail passenger use of the station has increased by eighty per cent over the past eight years according to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).
Last year the ORR suggested that more than 215,000 journeys started or ended at Severn Tunnel Junction.
Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, STAG representative, David Flint, paid tribute to the interest the county is now showing in rail issues and said he is convinced that more will be done to improve the station for passenger use.
"We continue to fight for better rail conditions for local travellers," he said
"Next week we meet with First Group to again discuss overcrowding and an increase in timetabled trains."
Work on the passenger footbridge starts later this month.
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