Rail minister Claire Perry visited the north east today, Wednesday 22 July 2015, to see how government investment is giving passengers better journeys and boosting the local economy.
The minister travelled to Newcastle Station, where a major upgrade is transforming the building and surrounding area. The improvements, worth a total of £22 million, have to date involved creating a new pedestrianised space at the front of the station and building a new travel centre with better toilet facilities and clearer signs. There are also new cycle storage facilities, improved road, cycle and taxi access to the station, and the number of shops at the station has doubled. Further work is planned.
Claire Perry said:
The investment at Newcastle Station, coupled with the plans for future improvements, has transformed the station and its surroundings, and is a great example of this government’s commitment to building a Northern Powerhouse. The £22 million of investment here is not only transforming the passenger experience, but also regenerating the local area and creating a truly impressive gateway to this great city. I am delighted that passengers, residents and local businesses are seeing the benefits.
The work inside the station was funded with £8.6 million from the Department for Transport’s Station Commercial Project Facility Fund. It was carried out by East Coast and Network Rail, in partnership with Newcastle City Council, local businesses and tourism bodies.
After touring the station building, the minister was then shown the ongoing work by Newcastle City Council to transform the surrounding area, as part of the Newcastle Central Gateway development. Work that has already been completed, with the help of £4.95 million from the Regional Growth Fund, includes improved road and cycle access, and 2 new hotels have opened in the area. Further work – including a new southern entrance to the station, and refurbishment of the Metro station – is planned in future, supported by £8.5 million from the government’s Growth Deal.
The minister also saw a mobile ticketing trial underway in the region. Rail operators in the north west and north east are currently piloting a scheme that allows customers to buy and download rail tickets directly to their mobile phones. If the trial is successful, the industry will explore how it can be introduced on other routes in the region.
Between 2014 and 2019, more than £38 billion is being invested in improving and maintaining the rail network across the UK.