Rochester station (Malc McDonald) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Rochester station (Malc McDonald) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Medway Council’s planning committee last night (11/9) agreed to proposals from Network Rail for a new railway station in Rochester.

The £26million station, which will be built at Corporation Street car park, is part of Network Rail’s East Kent investment programme to improve high-speed rail services, increase capacity, improve journey times and update infrastructure.

It will mean that Rochester’s rail station will be situated closer to the heart of Rochester town centre, which will help businesses in the High Street and boost tourism.

As well as the new station at Rochester, and improvements already made at Gillingham, there will also be improvements to Rainham and Strood stations – a total investment in Medway of £40 million.

This investment represents a vote of confidence in the continuing regeneration of Medway, providing a boost to flagship regeneration schemes such as Rochester Riverside.

The new station has been designed to meet demand – as the number of rail passengers travelling from Rochester is expected to increase by 30 per cent in the future. It will have larger platforms and concourses than the current station to cater for 12 car trains, rather than the 10 being used now.

And the improvements will lead to quicker high-speed journey times, which is good for commuters and will make Medway a more attractive destination for visitors and tourists.

The new station and improvements will also ensure that the rail network infrastructure in Medway is able to serve future needs.

The new station will occupy the southern end of the Corporation Street car park. As part of the redevelopment scheme a new council-owned car park will be built on the Rochester Riverside development site, to replace any parking lost and to serve the new station as well as residents and visitors to Rochester.

A new pedestrian subway – which will be well lit and have CCTV cameras in it – will link the station to the new car park and the Rochester Riverside site. Improvements will also be made to Corporation St and the existing Corporation Street car park to ensure the station becomes an integrated transport hub.

This includes new bus stops, an extension of the existing bus lane, a new controlled pedestrian crossing, cycle parking, taxi bays and pickup/drop off point within Corporation Street car park. Cllr Rodney Chambers, Medway Council Leader and Regeneration Lead, said: “The fact that this scheme has got the go ahead is very good news.

“It will lead to a new, better train station for Rochester, which will result in a quicker, more reliable service with more space for passengers.

“Rochester – like the rest of Medway – is benefiting from regeneration and more and more people are viewing it as a place to buy a family home and commute from. “The number of rail passengers is forecast to grow significantly and freeing up this space for a new station will not only improve the service for commuters and other passengers, but also make sure it grows with future demand.”

Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s route managing director for Kent, added: “This new station will deliver a huge boost to Rochester and Medway and provide passengers with improved facilities and better access to the town centre and surrounding area.

“It will be able to accommodate longer trains than the current station, helping boost capacity and providing more seats for passengers. It will also help kick-start the wider regeneration of the Riverside area, which is an important part of the development and future of Rochester.”