AMBITIOUS plans to regenerate Hungerford’s railway station are proving an uphill struggle.
Hungerford Town Council’s highways and transport committee heard on Monday that Great Western Railway (GWR) and Network Rail had offered “a catalogue of excuses as to why precious little has happened... which is a very sad state of affairs”.
That was the conclusion of John Willmott, a regular commuter who is spearheading the regeneration project for the town council.
However, it is not all bad news.
In a progress report to the committee, Mr Willmott revealed that GWR had cleaned the railings as requested and that the company was currently discussing, with Network Rail, the possibility of converting an area behind the London-bound platform into a car park.
However, work to replace a shelter roof has still not been completed, redecoration work is still out to tender and there is no news on the additional bins requested.
Mr Willmott told the committee: “Network Rail, for their part, aren’t interested in doing anything unless it pertains to safety.
“For example, when we reported used syringes being dumped over the fence, they responded quickly.”
However, he added: “Even though they’re on their land, they have refused to reduce the height of the laurel bushes, so they’re going to keep growing up and up.
“It seems bizarre that they won’t help with the upkeep of our railway heritage but it’s a national issue and the same all over the country.”
Hanging baskets have been ruled out on health and safety grounds, said Mr Willmott.
But he revealed that Hungerford Garden Centre has agreed to donate some flowers to provide more tubs, although the town council would have to provide extra money to augment these.
As reported last November, there are still plans for a stationmaster dressed as the ‘Fat Controller’ to welcome visitors.
The eccentric idea is inspired by the character of Sir Topham Hatt, who is the head of the railway in The Railway Series of books written by the Rev WV Awdry and featuring Thomas The Tank Engine.
It is intended that the role will be filled by May or June this year.
As for the outstanding works, Mr Willmott concluded: “It seems that constant pressure will be the only solution.”