This afternoon I wrote to our local MP, Tobias Ellwood asking him for an update from his recent meeting with the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps regarding the future of the South Western Railway franchise and the impact that any re-nationalisation of this part of the network would have on the installation of lifts at Pokesdown Station. I have also asked him to work with all other Dorset MPs in making access for all a priority at every station across the local region.
Earlier this week I wrote to the new boss of SWR, Mark Hopwood requesting a meeting with him to discuss the lack of progress with the lifts project and to ask him why accessibility for all does not feature as a priority in the list of commitments he has made to passengers for an improved service moving forward. I also asked him to attend a public meeting to discuss these and other issues concerning the station with residents and local businesses.
The following day a member of the Senior Management Team from SWR sent my colleague Cllr Hadley an email stating that they have received tender submissions from 3 suppliers for the Grip Stage 3 and 4 optioneering and design for approval. Stage 3 relates to demolition and rebuild whilst stage 4 relates to the installation of lift shafts at an alternative location within the station building leaving the existing shafts untouched. The tenders have been evaluated and a report has been written to SWR’s Board recommending a successful designer. The successful designer will enter into a contract with SWR at the end of January to complete the optioneering and a single option design and high level costing will be produced by the end of May.
As yet it is still unclear when the works will commence at the station and most importantly be completed by. Rest assured I will continue to ask for this information and relay it to all those who ask me on a regular basis for an update on the project as soon as possible.
It was confirmed at a recent public meeting that structural surveys are now being completed with a full report of the findings due in early November. This will then determine the next stage of the works in getting the lifts installed. In addition Andrew Ardley (SWR) stated that the station would be painted and new LED lighting installed as part of the ongoing works.