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Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington

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GOVERNMENT DITHERING CREATES 'GHOST' STATION - BRAKE

June 22, 2005 4:00 PM

Local MP Tom Brake has lent his support to local residents angry at delays to the new Thameslink station at St Pancras. Network Rail is still waiting for funding from the Government to fit out the station but the Government has yet to make a decision on this, which means the station is unlikely to be completed by 2007. The expected completion date is 2007 because Eurostar services are due to start the same year.

Mr Brake has tabled a parliamentary motion calling on the Government to set a timetable for resolving the financial concern.

Mr Brake said,

"The fear is that the delay could last another three years and while passengers have been extremely patient, that patience wears thin when there is news of further delay.

The Government appear unwilling to come up with the money for fitting out St Pancras Thameslink station. Without this money, the station will sit as an empty shell. It is no good having a station which passengers can not make use of.

St Pancras is key interchange station and commuters should not have to struggle to get from there to the current Thameslink Kings Cross station, which has extremely poor disabled access."

The new St. Pancras International station was designed to allow passengers to transfer between international, national and underground lines.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITOR

1. The "Thameslink Box" has already been excavated to the west of St Pancras Station and the plan was to fit it out with station platforms providing direct access to Eurostar and easy pedestrian access to King's Cross. (Cost estimate £60/£70 million). The necessary work has been shelved and so Eurostar/King's Cross passengers will still have a long (500 metre) walk to the cramped and inconvenient King's Cross Thameslink station in Pentonville Road, either through an underground labyrinth or across several main roads (often with heavy luggage).

2. St Pancras and King's Cross are together due to become Britain's biggest rail hub when the second section of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) opens in summer 2007. Up to 100,000 passengers an hour will pass through the hub.

3. Tom Brake's EDM reads,

Fitting Out of New St Pancras Thameslink Station

That this House notes the re-opening of the Thameslink through route and congratulates Thameslink and their contractors for completing construction of the new Thameslink St Pancras box station on time; regrets that funding has not been made available to fit-out the new Thameslink station at St Pancras and no timetable for resolving the funding crisis has been established; commends Michael Green for using the Freedom of Information Act to highlight this financial shortfall; and calls on the Government to draw up immediately a plan to resolve this crisis.

4. Tom Brake's letter to the Transport Secretary Alistair Darling follows.

Dear Alistair,

I write on the subject of delays to the fitting out of the St Pancras Thameslink station. I am raising this matter on behalf of my constituents, who are understandably concerned about the prospect of further delays.

I understand my predecessor John Thurso has written to you about this matter in recent months. I would therefore be grateful if you could clarify what progress your department has made on the matter.

First of all, I welcome the news that Thameslink and its contractors completed construction of the new Thameslink St Pancras box station on time and the Thameslink through-route is now re-open.

But a week ago, the Public Transport Liaison Group was advised that work on fitting out St Panscras Thameslink station (with escalators and platforms) is now unlikely to be completed until at least late 2008 and in fact probably some time in 2009.

In fact, the Thameslink representative made it very clear that this is decison is firmly in the hands of the Department for Transport and the delay is based on the Government's unwillingness to provide the necessary funding.

I understand that the fit out is estimated to cost £60-70 million.

Does the Government agree with this cost estimate? What truth is there to rumours of a financial shortfall? When is the Government due to make a decision on funding for fitting out of the station? What is the overall timetable for resolving this matter - when can passengers expect to make use of the St Pancras Thameslink station?

Given that St Pancras and King's Cross are together due to become Britain's biggest rail hub when the second section of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) opens in summer 2007 and that up to 100,000 passengers an hour will pass through the hub, I hope you will ensure money is made available for the fit out of St Pancras Thameslink station in the very near future.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Brake MP

Carshalton and Wallington