A PENARTH councillor has announced ambitious plans to demolish the town’s train station and replace it with a car park.
Councillor Lis Burnett, who represents the St Augustines ward, is proposing moving the train station to the other side of the railway bridge in a bid to free up parking spaces in the town centre.
Cllr Burnett believes that with the planned electrification of the railway lines across Wales moving the train station would be the best option, as the overhanging gantries wouldn’t fit under the bridge.
Other proposals include rebuilding the bridge, which she said would cause "horrendous" traffic problems and bring very little benefit, and digging the track lower into the ground so that the gantries would fit underneath it.
Under the proposals people would walk under the bridge from Station Approach to get to the new station, which would be located on land between Westbourne School and the Penarth Conservative Club.
For the Dingle and Cogan railway bridges it is either being proposed that they are both replaced or have the ground underneath them dug lower. Cllr Burnett said they were considering a third alternative for the Penarth bridge as it was at the end of the railway line.
A spokesman from Network Rail said the electrification project was at an early stage with funding yet to be confirmed, but that once it was they would be "identifying bridges that are too low to accommodate electrification infrastructure and analysing the most appropriate engineering solutions to ensure the required clearance for overhead electrical lines".
Cllr Burnett, cabinet member for regeneration, said that at the moment she doesn’t know how much it would cost, who would pay for it, or when work would start. There is currently a dispute between Welsh Government and UK Government about who will pay for the electrification of the railway lines, which is set to run into billions of pounds.
Cllr Burnett, of Redlands Road, said that the Vale Council had been in discussions with Network Rail to find out what needed to be done to accommodate electrification, as a review of all the bridges on railway lines across Wales is carried out.
“We need all these big gantries above the railway lines to hold the cabling,” she said.
“Most of the bridges in the valley lines are too low, so you either replace the bridge or dig ground way underneath.”
She said about the railway bridge in Penarth town centre: “It doesn’t bear thinking about what would happen if they took out the bridge. One thing that is being considered is moving the station to the other side.”
She added that she believed moving the station would have a number of benefits to visitors to the town and local businesses.
“It would help to reinvigorate this area of the town,” she said.
“I don’t know whether it would solve parking in the town, but the town has been looking for a car park for however long and I don’t know where else in all honesty.
“We are a long way off getting any agreement but I think it is one that must be seriously considered.”
She said there would be “horrendous issues” if the bridge was replaced and as you wouldn’t get more than two lanes of traffic there would be no further benefit.
She said that the aim of the electrification of the railway lines was to develop a “turn up and go” approach, where “if you miss one train there will be another one in a reasonable amount of time”.
She added: “We have got to keep the station, but it’s a question of seeing what is the best way with electrification and is there some way of doing something positive for the town while we do it.
“We are being creative about the options available to us to provide facilities for the town.”
A spokesman from Network Rail said: “Network Rail is continuing to work closely with both the UK and Welsh governments on the project to electrify the Valley Lines network.
“The project is at an early stage and funding is yet to be confirmed. Should funding become available and the project be developed further, Network Rail will begin detailed analysis on the railway infrastructure on the network. This will include a process of identifying bridges that are too low to accommodate electrification infrastructure and analysing the most appropriate engineering solutions to ensure the required clearance for overhead electrical lines.”