Two local groups – The Reigate Society and the Reigate, Redhill & District Rail Users’ Association (RRDRUA) – have expressed different views on the future of Reigate station’s car park.
Much or all of the car park could be lost to make way for an additional platform 3 at the station.
The project has been proposed by Network Rail but isn’t currently funded, with the next window not until 2019 – 2024.
Unlike the existing platforms, the extra platform 3 would be long enough for the latest twelve-car Thameslink trains. Without it, direct trains are unlikely to operate from Reigate to London Bridge, when Thameslink upgrade works complete in 2018.
Both groups agree that the additional platform would bring “considerable benefits” to Reigate.
However, the Reigate Society argues the loss of the car park is too high a price, in contrast to RRDRUA which thinks the loss of spaces could be managed.
In a letter this month to local politicians and Network Rail, and copied to RRDRUA, the Reigate Society said:
“The [RRDRUA] are wholeheartedly in favour of the extra platform. When asked at their AGM about the parking, the RRDRUA clam that Reigate station car park ‘is never full’ and that Reigate is only a ‘walk to’ station according to their research.”
But the Reigate Society argues that commuters are instead parking in nearby roads for free – and that the issue will get worse as GWR and Thameslink services expand. The society goes on to say:
“At a time when many other stations in the South East are expanding their car parks (including Redhill), a reduction for Reigate is proposed.
The current number of parking spaces is a meagre 70. It would be a totally perverse and retrograde step to allow a reduction.
The Reigate Society understands that the cost of the [platform 3] programme is a critical factor as to whether it will go ahead and finding other ways of providing the parking will add to the cost.
The Reigate Society Transport Committee and the General Purposes Committee unanimously disagree with the view that the car park can be reduced in capacity and believe that the RRDRUA’s view is demonstrably incorrect.
We intend to lobby for the current number of parking space to be retained as a minimum as we expect pressure on parking to increase.”
In a response letter, RRDRUA says that most on-street parking is in fact caused by workers at local businesses who can’t find space in Reigate town centre.
RRDRUA says a poll it undertook of its Reigate members shows that over half of them living in the town drive to other stations because of the unreliable service – causing street parking issues around Merstham and Earlswood. With a better service, around two-thirds of those driving would walk to Reigate instead, the group argues.
On the car park, RRDRUA says:
“We believe for local planning, thoughts around platform 3 should assume the lightly used car park is lost completely, and act accordingly to protect local roads from being potentially overburdened with London commuters parking.
The first act should be making sure there is enough parking at the key interchange locally – that key interchange is Redhill station. Drivers will drive there for the significantly better service if the parking was available and reasonably priced.”
RRDRUA says the current planned upgrade to Redhill only increases that station’s spaces from 367 to 450, and calls on the borough council to pressure Network Rail to make it at least 750. The cost of parking at Redhill should also be reduced from £6.60 a day to under £4, and local bus services should be improved.
And the sidings at Redhill, currently being used by Network Rail as a construction base, could also be considered for parking spaces, RRDRUA says.
The Reigate car park seems to be the sole bone of contention between the two volunteer-run groups, as the Reigate Society acknowledges:
“We would like to emphasise that the RRDRUA does excellent work on behalf of the local population and that apart from this one point, the Reigate Society totally supports their work.”
Letters (opens PDF)