The promised major redevelopment of Gatwick airport station is likely to be watered down because of a funding shortfall.
Earlier this year Network Rail announced plans to spend £30 million which, together with investment from airport operator BAA would have radically transformed the transport hub to increase the number of services passing through, along with passenger capacity.
The project would see a new platform created for the Gatwick Express service completed in time for the 2012 Olympics as well as bringing in the airport’s coach service to provide fully integrated public transport.
But the plans have now been cast into doubt by the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) which has earmarked only £9 million.
Alistair Smith, chief executive of the West Sussex Economic Partnership, lamented the £9 million which would only pay for track replacement and improved signals at the station saying:- “It’s only enough for a lick of paint. The Olympic body is always talking about legacy projects and this will be fantastic, not only for people travelling from Brighton and London, but for visitors coming from outside Britain.
“The proposal is out for consultation and we will be encouraging local authorities, businesses and organisations to come together and say that the ORR has got it wrong.”
A spokesman for NR admitted that they had asked for the full sum but ORR had other ideas about the cost of the proposed improvements. A spokesman for the ORR denied the amount of money that the regulator is putting forward would reduce the scope and ambition of the station project.
He said: “The £9 million figure was not plucked out of thin air but by comparing what the work NR does with other companies undertaking similar projects.
“It is our belief that the amount will be enough for NR to carry out their business plan. Others may have a different idea and that is why we are consulting on it.”
People have until September 4 to contribute to the consultation. Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership (BHEP) will be responding jointly with West Sussex Economic Partnership (WSEP)
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