The improved Island Platforms at Chester Railway Station and the new Central Pavilion, both part-funded by Cheshire West and Chester Council, will officially open on 3 June.
The improvements by train operator Arriva Trains Wales have been in the same style as other modern interventions elsewhere at the station, designed by BDP architects.
The new Central Pavilion houses a café, passenger waiting area and includes a new staircase from the Overbridge down to platform 7a. The East and West Pavilions have been restored internally and externally by Arriva and Network Rail and now provide space for Arriva staff. Only recently, Network Rail has also completed platform surface and roof improvements, as well as the installation of new passenger lifts.
Arriva has invested approximately £2million on the Island Platform improvements, with grant funding of £1.4million from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), National Stations Improvement Programme, The Railway Heritage Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The improvements are part of the £11million Chester station gateway transformation with more planned projects, all bringing this important historic station up to modern standards for 21st century railway travel.
Chester station has seen a substantial increase in passenger use in the last decade, and this is predicted to continue, supporting the rail needs of residents, commuters and visitors for Chester city and the wider area. The station is also a critical factor in the proposals for a new sustainable Central Business Quarter for the city centre, which will transform Chester’s commercial offer over the next 10 years.
Further improvement at the station will be the installation of new gates at the entrance, the opening of a visitor information point on the concourse, and the exterior restoration of the West Wing frontage (including station clock). The planned overhaul of the Overbridge will be the critical last major project inside the station.
Sir William McAlpine, Chairman of the Railway Heritage Trust, said: “Years of improvements are paying off, the opening of the new Central Pavilion and the restoration of the East Pavilion on the Island Platform marks another key milestone.
“Chester station is now creating the right impression for visitors who come to this busy and historic city. I congratulate Arriva with the excellent work they have done, and praise their culture of working in partnership.”
Councillor Stuart Parker, Townscape Heritage Initiative Chairman, added: “I am delighted that another milestone in developing Chester station has been reached, and I am confident that the substantial investment by partners will continue to pay dividends in continuing to grow passenger numbers through this key arrival gateway of the City.”
Ian Bullock, Customer Services Director at Arriva Trains Wales, said: “We are pleased to be delivering this project alongside our partners to provide a much improved and brighter passenger experience at Chester Station. These improvements will contribute to a station fit for the 21st century and will encourage more people to try the train.”