FOUR years after calls were made to improve Darwen railway station, work has finally started.
Contractors have begun on the £400,000 scheme that will see fencing repaired and repainted, new shelters for passengers, a new CCTV system, new signs, a customer information system including a public announcement system, and ticket machines.
Work is expected to last around six weeks, and to minimise the affect on residents, planned night working on the platforms has been cut from eight nights to just four.
Councillor Dave Harling, executive member for regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “The council has worked long and hard to get to this stage. Thanks to an agreement with Northern Rail, we’ve been able to halve the amount of night time working required.
“This is for the resurfacing of both platforms and the installation of tactile paving to help visually impaired customers.”
Recently, annual passenger numbers at the station, which serves the Northern Rail service from Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe have increased to 250,000.
In March 2008, former Darwen MP Janet Anderson called for investment to combat rising incidents of vandalism and fare-dodging.
After a feasibility study taking into account passenger numbers and crime, Blackburn with Darwen Council secured £200,000 ‘matched’ funding from the National Station Improvement Programme (NSIP) to complete the improvements.
Sunnyhurst Councillor Dave Smith said the news was “long overdue” for the town.
He said: “I’m chuffed about it, but the station has been looking tired for some time, especially the shelters and the infrastructure.
“The improvements will make a big difference to an increasingly-popular station. Anything that encourages people to take public transport has got to be welcomed.”