Ilkeston, 50 years on
Source: RTM Oct/Nov 16
The town of Ilkeston is finally getting another rail station after almost 50 years without tracks. Geoff Pickford, service director for highways at Derbyshire County Council, gives an update on the latest developments taking place at the site.
In 2013, just after the town of Ilkeston received the go-ahead for a new station as part of the DfT’s New Stations Fund, former transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin called the area “one of the largest towns in the country that doesn’t actually have a railway connection”. Indeed, Ilkeston, which once had three rail stations, lost its last one in 1967 as a result of the Beeching cuts.
Fast-forward 50 years and that is all set to change, with work to build another station on the site of the original Ilkeston Junction and Cossall station currently underway and progressing well. Speaking to RTM, Geoff Pickford, Derbyshire County Council’s service director for highways, said the bulk of the work so far has been putting in the piles for the platform and the new footbridge.
“It’s all pre-cast construction once you’re out of the ground,” Pickford explained. “A lot of the beams and quite a lot of the platform slabs are now in place, so it’s starting to look like a station now. For a long time it just looked like a building site.
“There’s also work going on with the embankment widening, which will take a slightly widened highway alignment on the Nottinghamshire side – the east side of the station. We’ll be waiting for the footbridge to start being delivered and installed next month.”
The footbridge, which will be wider than usual, will be the “next big thing” to happen on the site. “There was an old footbridge running alongside the road bridge, which gave the access to the original station that was there,” said Pickford. “That’s since gone, and we have some temporary traffic lights working over the road bridge to allow pedestrians to continue to cross over.
“The next big thing that will really make a visual impact will be the arrival and the erection of the footbridge. Bits and pieces will be arriving from the fabricators within the next couple of weeks, and we anticipate that the footbridge will be installed in November.”
As well as the footbridge, the key features of the Aecom-designed station include two platforms, each of them of a four-car length; stairs and ramps down to the platforms as well as improved connectivity across the rail tracks; a 90-space car park on the east side of the station; and smaller facilities on the western side, which will cater for disabled passengers, motorbikes, taxis and bicycles.
The £10.5m station will be operated by East Midlands Trains and will include a handful of its Liverpool-Norwich services – but the main service will be Northern’s Leeds-Nottingham trains.
Delays and setbacks
As was widely reported by regional press, the station suffered a series of setbacks since receiving government backing three years ago. Originally meant to open in 2014, the project was delayed by major issues with the floodplain and a long trapping period of the great crested newts found at the site.
Pickford admitted that the contractor, Galliford Try, has now also hit difficulties with the piling works, meaning Network Rail can’t yet commit to a firm opening date. It was expected for late autumn this year, but the project is expected to slip from that.
But, once up and running, the station will be great news for passengers who have otherwise been forced to travel via bus or car to nearby towns. Travelling time to Nottingham will be slashed from 40 to 15 minutes, for example, and the Ilkeston community will be much better connected to their Sheffield and Chesterfield neighbours.
“We believe that will help make Ilkeston a majorly attractive place for people to do business,” Pickford said. “That’s really borne out by the fact that Nottingham Housing Market area has contributed £1m towards the cost of the station, so they recognise that by making Ilkeston better connected, that will make it a much more attractive place for people to live.”
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