Wixams Railway Station will close at 10pm every day as it is “too expensive” to stay open for longer, a meeting heard.
Bedford Borough Council’s Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee (September 28) was told that Network Rail regularly closes the slow lines for engineering works.
Jon Shortland, chief officer – planning, infrastructure & economic growth, told the Committee that this is potentially every six weeks.
“On other stations on the line that’s not particularly a problem because trains can be diverted to call on the fast line and platforms where necessary,” he said.
“But because we’re building a two-platform station at Wixams and not a four-platform station that option isn’t available to us.
“So if trains were scheduled to call later than 10 pm and would not be able to do so on a regular basis, then we would have to lay on a replacement bus service.
“We have worked [that] out at being between half a million and a million pounds a year, which is something we can’t afford out of our revenue budgets,” he explained.
“So the decision was taken that we would accept a train service which finished at 10pm.
“Having a train service at the station at all is an improvement on the current situation.
“And if people, as they may well do, come home later at night than that then they will travel to Bedford and get a taxi back from there, which is probably what they’re doing at the moment, so they would be no worse off.
“And everybody able to travel before 10pm would clearly be a lot better off.
“So that’s the decision we’ve had to take there because we can’t afford to build a four-platform station,” he said.
Mr Shortland added that the council is making two planning application amendments to the planning permission granted in February.
This includes the provision of a second footbridge.
“Which Network Rail is insisting upon in order to ensure that passengers could leave this platform safely in the event of a fire,” he said.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter