Stewart Jackson on the Peterborough Station Revamp

17:10 Friday 14th January 2010 BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

ANDY BURROWS: It’s emerged today that Peterborough Railway Station is to undergo a £2.5 million redevelopment. The scheme is being funded by the train operator East Coast, alongside Network Rail. The station has long been criticised for perhaps looking a little bit shabby, and giving a rather unwelcoming impression to anyone visiting the city for the first time. Let’s speak to Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson. Evening to you Mr. Jackson.

ANDY BURROWS: Would you agree with me there that perhaps it’s not the greatest impression sometime for anyone new to the city, if they step off the train?
STEWART JACKSON: Well it looks like something stuck in time in about 1971 in East Germany really. It’s a glorified portakabin with a coffee kiosk, which is fine if you’re talking about a small village, or even a small town, but actually if you’re talking about an aspirational city of 170,000 plus people. it’s just not good enough, and it’s absolutely fantastic news that £2.5 million will be spent on a long-overdue upgrade to Peterborough Station.
ANDY BURROWS: Oh get off the fence, Mr Jackson. (THEY LAUGH)
STEWART JACKSON: I believe I should say what I think Andy, and that’s it.
ANDY BURROWS: I will try and extract it out of you. (THEY LAUGH) Well thank heavens then. Have you seen these plans, that will give it a new frontage, a new lighter and brighter interior? That’s what the people are promising behind these plans.
STEWART JACKSON: Well contrary to what people think, MPs do sometimes think ahead, and I did have a meeting with Elaine Holt the Chief Executive of East Coast Trains at the end of October. And I have to say I was probably one of the first people to see the plans. Because she was giving me a briefing on the timetable and changes in the services in the next year or so, including I believe a new Pendolino train which we’re going to have, which may very well cut the time to London by a number of minutes ..
ANDY BURROWS: What’s a Pendalino?
STEWART JACKSON: Well it’s one of those tilting trains that has recently been used on the West Coast Main Line. And East Coast have volunteered to have a trial of that service. And I think it’s fantastic news, because if it works out, it may very well cut the journey time by up to six or seven minutes into Kings Cross, making Peterborough even more reachable and even more attractive for people to commute. Yes I have seen the visual images, and I do think they look really very impressive.
ANDY BURROWS: OK. So the station itself is going to be better, but of course when you step away from the station, it can be a little bit difficult, can’t it, to navigate your way into the city centre, if you’re new to Peterborough? Do you know if there’s any movement as far as that’s concerned? And no-one wants to see, well there’s a large percentage of people who don’t want to see the Great Northern Hotel, which is right opposite the station ..
STEWART JACKSON: Including me.
ANDY BURROWS: .. knocked down, that’s for sure. But there has to be a better pathway, doesn’t there, between the station and the city centre? Because it’s a good few hundred yards.
STEWART JACKSON: Well I think the challenge for the City Council and the new Local Enterprise Partnership is to get this whole Station Quarter and North Westgate development sorted out within the next two or three years. Because I do think that’s very important. You touch on a very important issue. We need both to look at the west of the railway line, ie what is now the existing PDH, which is empty now. And also that area between the railway station itself and say Cowgate. And a lot of that is to do with the North Westgate development, which is currently stalled, and we need to make sure that new players can come in and actually kickstart that. But yes, no-one is pretending that it’s a lovely vista that you see when you come from the underpass and see the multi-storey carpark. I think we do need to do a lot of work on that. But the station remodelling is a very good start, and I want to see the planning application go in as soon as possible.
ANDY HARPER: Well thank you for joining me. Peterborough MP, the Conservative Stewart Jackson, that was. Your comments welcome .. Is Mr Jackson right about the train station? He said it was like something out of the old East Germany.