Improvements at Exeter Central Station forecourt will be officially opened on Monday.
The area outside the station has undergone a £660,000 enhancement to create a more welcoming environment for rail passengers.
The scheme has been funded through Devon County Council’s successful bid to the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund to improve access to stations, as well as £185,000 from Exeter City Council and £160,000 from Network Rail.
The forecourt will be officially opened by County Council Chairman Bernard Hughes OBE and Exeter Lord Mayor Councillor Rachel Lyons at 10am.
The improved layout includes a new bus shelter, taxi provision, free and user-friendly pick up and drop off facility for rail users, loading bays for local businesses and their customers, and a dedicated car club parking space in partnership with Co-Cars. The station, and Queen Street as a whole, will also benefit from formal cycle parking.
The scheme has been delivered under budget and so further improvements to the forecourt canopy are being prepared by First Great Western and the installation of an interactive information point is also being planned similar to those already installed in Princesshay and St Thomas.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said: “This scheme is a great example of partnership working and its given the area around the station a much needed lift. This forecourt now creates a much better first impression for the growing number of visitors arriving by train. These improvements have been an aspiration for many years and will help make it easier for people travelling to and from Central Station.”
Councillor Rachel Sutton, Exeter City Council’s Lead Councillor for City Development, said: “These improvements bring the forecourt into the 21st century and in line with the rest of the work going on in the city. For many people this is their first view of Exeter, so we needed to get this right and I believe we have.”
Councillor Jill Owen, County Councillor for St David's and St James, said: “It has been a long wait but the end result is very pleasing. Coupled with the new paving area at Northernhay Gate next door, the front of Central Station enhances the general street scene and now properly reveals the old station building. Both travellers and pedestrians in Queen Street have something to celebrate.”
Patrick Hallgate, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “Exeter is forecast to be among the biggest growth cities within South West of England by 2026. It is vital that we provide a robust railway to support this growth and most importantly, the city’s economy. By working with partners to improve Exeter stations, we are sprucing up the railways’ shop-front, revitalising the city’s environment as well as building Exeter Central into a welcoming gateway.”
Access to Stations is a partnership between eight local authorities and sustainable transport charity Sustrans. The project, at 20 stations across England, is aiming to increase travel by foot, bike and public transport to and from railway stations by improving access, and providing comprehensive travel information.
Although an Invitation to Tender to run a staffed Cycle Hub at Central Station attracted no bids, First Great Western is now preparing a separate scheme to install additional secure and sheltered cycle parking, and public bike repair facilities, on the platform later this year.