Dignitaries gathered to celebrate the £2.5 million makeover of Bognor Regis Railway Station that pays homage to its Edwardian seaside heritage, on 19 January.
They were welcomed with a musical performance by the Aldingbourne Trust, a charity for people with learning disabilities, which rail firm Southern supports, before speeches and an opening ceremony.
The Grade II-listed building has been transformed through a collaboration between Network Rail, Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway, Railway Heritage and Arun District Council.
And, in a meeting of old with new, West Sussex County Council also plan to open at the station a creative digital hub with ultra-fast internet connection for start-up businesses and freelancers.
Passengers travelling through the station now enjoy:
- A regenerated square outside and refurbished canopy;
- Improvements to the Grade II listed building, including windows, new concourse floor and brickwork;
- A new ticket office, designed to match the old station’s bookshop;
- A new café, taxi office and newsagents;
- A new waiting room (a first in many years for the station);
- A refurbished toilet;
- New customer information screens and signs to improve the flow of passengers and reduce congestion;
- Better station lighting and upgraded CCTV for improved security;
- A heritage-refurbished barrier between concourse and platforms;
- A new platform information and dispatch point;
- New business areas, which will be leased by West Sussex County Council for use as a creative digital hub with an ultra-fast internet connection for start-up businesses and freelancers;
- A former flat, refurbished for use by the Station Manager for office space and meetings.
Angie Doll, Southern and Gatwick Express Passenger Services Director, said: “We’re modernising the railway with new trains, infrastructure and working practices to give passengers better journeys and the regeneration of Bognor Regis railway station is an important part of that work.
“Together with our industry partners, the council and Railway Heritage, I think we have absolutely transformed Bognor Regis to give passengers a more pleasant journey.”
Lucinda Valentine, Network Rail scheme sponsor, said: “The work at Bognor station is a shining example of the rail industry working in partnership with other organisations to deliver a better, more modern railway for passengers while having also protecting railway heritage.”
MP Nick Gibb said: “There has been a railway station on this site since 1864 and in its current form since 1902. I am delighted to be here today to help celebrate the opening of the newly refurbished station which pays tribute to the heritage of the building as well as creating a pleasant environment for the 1.2 million passengers who use the station every year.
“This marks the start of huge changes in the area and I am delighted that the Bognor Regis Creative Hub will be opening this summer in the disused parts of the building. This is a great step in improving the town for visitors and residents alike.”
Paul Childs, Company Secretary of the Railway Heritage Trust said: “A key objective of the Railway Heritage Trust is to encourage the conservation of the nation’s built railway heritage through regeneration. We are delighted to have been a partner in the sensitive refurbishment of such an important example of an Edwardian seaside terminus.”
Town Mayor Cllr Phil Woodall said: “It’s fantastic that Bognor Regis has had these much-needed improvements. I’m sure it will make travelling by train to and from the town a better experience for all. We are hopeful that some of the empty premises within the station, such as the café and taxi office will soon be up and running as well.”
Cllr Phil Hitchins, Chairman, Bognor Regis Regeneration at Arun District Council, said: “Thank you Southern, Network Rail and your partners for this fantastic transformation. Thanks to all who worked on this project and for giving back to Bognor Regis its splendid and proud station.”
Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “This is a fantastic step forward for Bognor Regis and another piece in the jigsaw of years of hard work on developing Bognor as a place which nurtures innovation and supports businesses and creativity.”
Notes to editors
Speakers at Friday’s event were: Angie Doll, Passenger Services Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, Nick Gibb MP, Chairman of Arun District Council Cllr Jacky Pendleton, Town Mayor Cllr Phil Woodall, Cllr Phil Hitchins of Arun District Council, and Paul Childs of Railway Heritage.
Funding for the work totalled over £2.5 million and is split as follows:
- £1,850,000 from the Department for Transport, via Network Rail (National Stations Improvement Programme)
- £100,000 from Railway Heritage
- £700,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund provided by Department for Communities and Local Government for Arun District Council to regenerate the square outside the station and resurface roads and pavements in Station Road
For information about West Sussex County Council’s plans for a new creative digital hub, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 2228090
The site of the present station dates from the opening of the branch line to Bognor from Barnham on 1 June 1864. The station was blown down in a gale in 1897, and then burned down in 1899. The present station buildings by the company architect C.D. Collins date from 1902 and have achieved grade II listed building status as an Edwardian period seaside station terminus
The station was renamed 'Bognor Regis' by the Southern Railway in 1930 as the town was renamed as such having been the place of the King's (George V) recuperation from serious illness.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – services between Bedford and Brighton, Luton/St Albans and Sutton, Wimbledon and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria
GTR is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff. The operator carries about 326 million passenger journeys per year, and employs around 6,500 people. Its aim is to improve services across all four networks.
Ticket revenue is passed to the government, which pays GTR a fee to operate the franchise. The fee is adjusted according to how well the train service is performing.
Southern has the fastest passenger growth in the UK with numbers into London having doubled in 12 years - compared with the industry as a whole doubling over the past 20 years. To meet this growth and to future-proof the network, GTR is modernising the rail service for passengers.
GTR has introduced more new trains in the past year than all other franchises put together, with 500 new carriages so far.
The transformative £7bn Thameslink Programme will bring hundreds more daily services from 2018, increasing the number of trains though the central London core from up to 15 to 24 trains per hour. Network Rail has also launched a £300m programme to improve resilience across the GTR network.
GTR is modernising how it works, with new technology in use at our stations and on our trains, smartcard ticketing and a new, flexible on-board role on many Southern services. This ensures fewer cancellations, and with more staff on board our trains now than ever before, passengers are enjoying a much better level of on-board customer service.
The GTR investment programme for stations includes funding for more CCTV, toilet refurbishments, new retail facilities, help points and car park improvements – as well as plans for increased motorcycle storage and improved transport integration.