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Safety issues holding back Manea station car park

The Hereward Community Rail Partnership (HCRP) remains fully committed to delivering a station car park at Manea and has apologised for the delays in bringing it to fruition.

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It acknowledged that the project was taking much longer than expected and said it understood local people's frustration.

Discussions about the car park have been going on for about two years but progress has been slowed by some "very complex issues", the partnership said.

Councillor Simon King, the HCRP's chairman, said: "We appreciate the great support we have had from the local community, which was a key factor in securing a more frequent rail service from Manea. That initial success naturally increased expectations that other improvements would follow soon after, including the car park.

"Unfortunately, however, various factors have combined to hold things up and we recognise that is very frustrating. There are some very complex issues that need to be resolved but we are working very hard to deliver the car park as soon as possible."

The main reason for the delay is the proximity of the proposed car park entrance to the level crossing. This means that extensive work is needed to address this matter through designs, railway and highway engineering requirements and road safety audits. Network Rail, Abellio Greater Anglia and Cambridgeshire County Council have to be satisfied that all the safety issues have been adequately addressed for the project to move forward.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: "We understand that the local community is keen to have a car park at the station, but there are safety issues that we need to consider because of the level crossing nearby.

"We are working with the Hereward Community Rail Partnership, Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Abellio Greater Anglia to ensure that any proposal put forward for this scheme is safe and viable."

A  spokesman for Abellio Greater Anglia said:"We are supportive of the potential plans for a car park at Manea station. We are working with our partners at Network Rail and Fenland District Council to try and address the key issues which need to be tackled to make this upgrade possible.

"These issues include ensuring that road, rail and pedestrian safety standards are protected, given the car park's proposed location adjacent to the level crossing, and, if these challenges are overcome, securing the necessary funds to deliver the project."

Meanwhile, the HCRP has obtained the money needed for one new waiting shelter and discussions are continuing on securing extra funding for a second shelter and a ticket machine.

A bid has also been submitted to the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for £360,000 to enable further feasibility studies for station improvements at both Manea and Whittlesey.

It has already been established that both platforms at Manea need lengthening to accommodate three- or four-carriage trains, which would enable more trains to stop there.

Meetings have been held with all three shortlisted bidders for the new Anglia rail franchise, with one of the key aims being to secure an hourly service from Manea.

The successful bidder will be announced in June, with the new 10-year franchise beginning in October.

Article added May 3, 2016