|Earlsfield Station update|
|Thursday, 09 December 2010 15:27|
I've received a number of emails from residents with concerns about the delayed work at Earlsfield Station.
Firstly, let me say I share your frustrations about the access difficulties at Earlsfield Station, and the problems this poses to mothers (and fathers) with small children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with mobility difficulties. Quite simply, Earlsfield Station is out of date and needs serious work to bring it up to the standard local residents deserve.
When I was first elected as MP in Tooting (which covers Earlsfield) in 2005 I made improved access to transport in the constituency one of my priorities. I was the founder and first Chair of the 'Access for All' All Party Parliamentary Group, which helped direct government funding towards transport accessibility improvements. This led to government grants for new lifts at Balham Station (installed in 2007/2008) and at Earlsfield Station.
I also secured further investment in Earlsfield Station (as part of the National Stations Improvement programme) which will fund a completely refurbished station. Altogether, £8 million had been earmarked for improvements to Earlsfield Station, and new lifts.
With funding for both a station regeneration and new lifts, Network Rail decided that all the work should be done simultaneously. Work was originally intended to begin in 2010, but after I lobbied the Transport Minister, Tom Harris MP, I received confirmation work would begin in 2009.
Unfortunately, once Network Rail began to assess the site a number of challenges emerged that led to significant delays:
· The location and design of the station makes it difficult to carry out work without closing Garratt Lane completely, and for a significant length of time. Given the traffic chaos this would cause, Network Rail invested a great deal of time in formulating an alternative plan that would minimise the disruption.
· The work-around to this problem required the compulsory purchase of land next to Earlsfield Station - this further delayed the plans.
· Part of the work needs to be done as part of the weekend track closure programme - to achieve 'best value for money' and minimise service disruption Network Rail have had to schedule these works to coincide with other works at Vauxhall and Clapham Junction.
I understand that these delays are extremely frustrating. I wrote to the Transport Minister, Chris Mole MP, seeking an explanation for the delays, and demanding the process be sped up, I also brought the Transport Secretary Lord Adonis to Earlsfield earlier this year to see the site and the problems Earlsfield residents face.
Since the General Election in May there have been significant cuts to capital spending on transport - which has led to cuts to station improvement programmes throughout the country, including at Clapham Junction.
I wrote to the new Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond seeking his assurances that Earlsfield Station would not be cut.
I am happy to say that the plans are going ahead, and that Network Rail is in the final stages of selecting a contractor to carry out the works. Once the tendering process has been completed, work should begin soon after. The last update I had indicated this would be early next year.
As you will see, I care deeply about this issue and have consistently raised it in Parliament and with Government Ministers.
I will of course continue to chase this issue and update you fully when I receive further news from Network Rail. I hope this will be very soon.
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