I READ with some interest the item in the Penarth Times on August 21 about Penarth Town Councillor Lis Burnett’s idea about re-location Penarth railway station.
Her proposal is that the station should be moved from its present location at the head of Station Approach to a position on the northern side of Stanwell Road Bridge. The space vacated by the station would be given over to car parking apparently.
The councillor's proposal seems to have been partly driven by the electrification of the Penarth branch as part of the proposed Valleys Lines scheme and the perceived difficulties this would cause accommodating the overhead line equipment to be erected beneath Stanwell Road Bridge.
While I am not an engineer and I don’t have the facts and figures regarding clearances of this bridge, I would imagine that Network Rail have much experience in engineering solutions to the problems the Cllr is concerned with. Track can be lowered or bridges slightly raised to accommodate overhead wires. After all, to bring electrification to south Wales along the main line from Paddington, Network ail will have to get the wires safely through the Severn Tunnel so I am sure they would cope with Stanwell Road Bridge.
Currently, Penarth Station stands in a bright, airy, open and prominent position at the head of Station Approach and is a main gateway for visitors to the town arriving by train. As you exit the station you have an impressive building vista ahead in the shape of Station Approach, Victoria Road and the Paget Rooms. This impression would all be lost if the station were re-located as the Cllr suggests.
Instead, the station would be stuck within a cramped, dull and often probably wet cutting with little sunlight. What a poor impression for visitors arriving in the town and what a gloomy, depressing spot for passengers to await their train.
And if the idea is also driven by a desire to provide some extra car parking, just how many spaces would be created? Well, I can’t provide a figure but my guess would be not very many. The station as is only occupies a relatively narrow strip of land if you just used the railway land vacated by the station. Cars need room to manoeuvre in and out of parking spaces so I would not imagine many spaces would be provided. Indeed, I would think more land would be needed, probably in different ownership and uses, to make a viable scheme.
And a final point, who is to be paying the cost of knocking down a perfectly usable station and building a replacement. Not Network Rail I hope, nor the taxpayers or Council Tax payers. In these cash-strapped times for the public sector I would have thought there were much more urgent priorities for which such money could be used.
So in a nutshell, the station occupies an important gateway position in the town, is perfectly fit for purpose as it is and needs to remain where it is.