Transport minister Norman Baker has heralded the “wholesale improvement” of Horsham station.
The Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes today visited the station to see how more than £4 million has been spent on improvements to rejuvenate it.
Changes include a second entrance, improvements to the forecourt, more parking spaces, a bigger area for cycle storage, new retail facilities, modern canopies providing cover on platforms, refurbished waiting rooms, accessible toilets and improved access to a lift.
The work has been funded by the government’s National Station Improvement Programme (NSIP), Southern Railway, Network Rail and West Sussex County Council.
Mr Baker said: “A good-quality railway journey starts the moment you enter a station, not just when you step onto a train. That is why the £1.88 million we (the government) have provided for this wholesale improvement to Horsham station is so important. The coalition government is determined to encourage more passengers to use more trains by giving them an excellent experience during their whole trip.”
Chris Burchell, Southern’s managing director, said: “The high-quality end-product at Horsham station is a fine example of what can be achieved by working closely with our industry and local authority colleagues.
“The development schemes that have been delivered have transformed Horsham station into a truly superb public transport interchange. By running three separate schemes in tandem, we have managed to minimise the level of disruption on the service. I know our passengers will benefit greatly from the improvements in the months and years ahead.”
Mark Ruddy, route managing director for Network Rail in Sussex, said: “Facilities in stations across Sussex continue to improve thanks to the National Station Improvement Programme. More and more passengers are using the railway today and they quite rightly expect and deserve a better standard of facilities and information than ever before.
“Horsham station has been vastly improved and is an example of the positive difference this level of investment in stations is making across the South of England.”
Cllr Pieter Montyn, county council Cabinet member for transport, said: “When you step off the train at Horsham now, you feel you are walking into a rail station fit for the 21st Century. We are delighted to see that our investment will contribute to the positive passenger experience at Horsham station.”
Southern is also working with the Sussex Community Rail Partnership to improve stations in the area. As part of this initiative, partnership development officer Pene Mather has co-ordinated further improvements at Horsham.
Knights Travel and Knights 247 Cars are supplying three wooden planter benches at the front of the station, which will be placed based on the feedback given to Southern by its customers. The Village Nurseries in West Chiltington donated the plants, to be planted by pupils from Leechpool Primary School.
A spokesman for Knights said: “This scheme has allowed us to put something back into the community. With Leechpool’s help and the wonderful plants, we feel we can make a positive difference.”
Knights Travel and Knights 247 Cars would welcome contact from schools and groups who want to help maintain the planters. For details, phone 01403 247247. For more information about the station partnership scheme, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs Mather (left) and representatives of Knights are pictured with Leechpool pupils.