Plans for a new £63 million in Kent train station have been put on hold due to soaring costs.
Medway Council planned to build a new station on the Hoo Peninsula which would connect it with Gravesend. But the council have said thast high inflation, increased construction costs, and pressures on public spending have stalled the project.
The original plan was to reinstate the Grain branch line and build a train station at Sharnal Street, High Halstow, as part of the authority’s £170 million allocationfor the peninsula. The Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) supports the building of 10,600 new homes by funding infrastructre developments including new roads and green spaces. It was hoped that the new train station would provide rail services for the new developments.
The council says it is now looking to improve the Peninsula’s bus services instead. It had already attracted criticism after it was announced there would be no rail connection to the rest of the Towns via Strood, because it would be too costly and there wouldn’t be enough demand for the service.
Instead, it was proposing a battery-powered service to Gravesend, which would take 14 minutes. The council says the cost of construction materials has impacted the budget for the project, but it will be “safeguarding” the land earmarked for the new station with a view to delivering the service in the future.
Cllr Gary Etheridge (Con), chairman of the council’s regeneration, culture, and environment overview and scrutiny committee, said he was “pleased” about the delay, saying he felt the whole point of the station was diminished when the proposed link to Strood was brushed off.
what’s happening to the £63 million that was going to the rail project?
Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con) – who is stepping down at the elections in May – said “Like many other important HIF-funded projects across the country, we are reviewing our investment programmes with Homes England in order to remain financially prudent. Medway Council’s and the Hoo Consortium’s commitment to delivering sustainable communities, supported by excellent infrastructure, is unwavering and we continue to develop our plans”.
Strood Rural representative, Cllr Elizabeth Turpin (Con) – who previously raised concerns about the way the HIF was being funded – said she welcomed better bus services but was concerned about the road capacity and how many of the buses would be electric.