Cost of railway station upgrade set to double to £7m
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
Plans to upgrade a railway station are now estimated to cost more than double the original estimate of £3.5 million.
The long-running project to improve facilities at the Pontypool and New Inn station, which has already been granted planning permission, would see a park and ride facility accessed off newly built slip roads from the A4042 with 160 parking spaces.
A new footbridge and a lift is also planned to provide access from the car park to the station’s single island platform as part of the project, which would be the first Cardiff Capital Region metro plus scheme to be delivered.
Torfaen council is now in a position to award a contract to deliver the scheme, but a report says there has been a “significant increase in cost”.
The project was originally estimated to cost £3.5 million, with all funding to come from external sources to the council. But the scheme is now estimated at £7.1 million, with Torfaen council contributing £1.5 million to ensure it can be delivered.
The remaining funding would be provided by the Cardiff Capital Region and Welsh Government.
Explaining the reasons for the increased cost, a council report says the complexity of the scheme has “increased dramatically since early conception”.
It says the original estimate was based on “a very simple outline design”.
“It had been difficult to update the estimates with any degree of accuracy prior to tender as we only achieved completion of the design at tender stage,” the report adds.
Some of the main issues which were not considered in the original estimated cost include an alteration to a slip road and associated embankment, which will generate further earthworks.
Sustainable urban drainage systems to be delivered as part of the project has also increased the cost.
The size of the car park will need to be increased to provide electric vehicle charging points, and the cost of ticket machines was also not considered in the original estimate.
Additional works to the station platform, including providing more shelters, and planting in Pontypool Park agreed as a condition of the planning permission, have also contributed.
A ‘significant issue’ in the increased cost is related to Network Rail requirements for track possession, which is required for works such as site clearance.
The project is also the first park and ride to go through design processes since the award of the new franchise in Wales, with requirements to meet Network Rail and Transport for Wales standards, the council report says.
The report says the development “has the potential to harness rail passenger growth to and from Cwmbran, Newport and Cardiff which will have a positive impact on both Torfaen and the Cardiff Capital Region”.
“This would play a role in enhancing the prosperity and wellbeing for all, through economic growth, and encourage the use of more sustainable means of transport,” it says.
Phase one of the metro plus scheme is planned to be delivered by March 31, 2023, with the Pontypool station upgrade expected to be the first project to be completed.
Torfaen councillors will decide on whether to approve up to £1.5 million for the scheme next week.
Subject to the remaining funding being confirmed, the council will then award the contract for the development.