Weapon casings from World War II munitions factory blamed for spiralling costs of new rail station park and ride

Weapon casings thought to be from a World War II munitions factory have been partly blamed for the spiralling costs of a new rail station park and ride.

After years of planning, and several delays, the Steeton and Silsden Park and Ride is due to be completed in November.

But when the facility is opened the total cost will have risen from the estimated £2.5 million when the plans were first suggested to just over £7 million.

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The rising costs will mean that funding for improved parking facilities planned for Shipley Station is no longer available, and new sources of funding will be needed for that project to move forward.

Steeton And Silsden Car Park September 2023Steeton And Silsden Car Park September 2023
Steeton And Silsden Car Park September 2023

At a meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee on Tuesday members will be given an update on the many issues that have plagued the Steeton and Silsden development – including the unexpected legacy of the 1940s munitions factory.

The park and ride will see a new two storey car park built on the existing car park at Steeton and Silsden Rail Station.

There will be more blue badge bays, lift to the upper floor and CCTV.

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Funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority, it is hoped the car park will increase the number of people commuting by train, and increase capacity at a station car park that regularly fills up during rush hour.

The car park will create an extra 102 free car parking spaces at the station – taking the number of spaces there to 245.

But the plans have been beset by delays.

Originally the project was scheduled to be complete in October, 2020, before being pushed back to January, 2022 before being pushed back yet again.

And at the Transport Committee meeting members will be given more detail on the delays, and the resulting increase in costs.

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A report to members says: “The scheme has experienced delays due the introduction by Network Rail of a post-contract requirement to restrict the erection of steelworks during specific hours to reduce the risk of working near the track.

“The estimated costs associated with the issue is £1,689,576.

“In addition, during construction some casings from a suspected explosives factory were discovered which resulted in delays and an estimated cost of £175,000.

“A further £261,392 was to support further management fees is requested due to the alteration and delays to the project.

“The total estimated costs are £7,010,641.”

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During World War II Steeton was home to the Royal Ordanance Factory.

Built in 1940, the factory employed 4,000 people – many of them women. In 1942 the factory was visited by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

The factory produced 204 million munition components before the end of the war, and was protected by manned pillbox style defences – two of which still remain in the area.

At Tuesday’s meeting members will also be told that there have also been cost rises at two other rail station park and rides – at Moorthorpe and Normanton.

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Costs of the Moorthorpe scheme have risen from an original estimate of £1.1m to £2.16m. The rise was partly blamed on the discovery of a Victorian well on the site.

And the costs for the Normanton scheme, originally estimated to be £1.4m, have risen to £3.26m – partly due to the Pandemic delaying the process of moving two Network Rail tenants off the site needed for the expansion.

These parking facilities were part of a wave of planned improvements to station car parks that would be funded by the Combined Authority.

So far six have been completed, at Garforth, Fitzwilliam, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, South Elmsall and Mirfield.

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Five more were “paused” due to spiralling inflation. These were new parking facilities at Apperley Bridge, Ben Rhydding, Guiseley, Outwood and New Pudsey.

Another improvement is planned for Shipley Rail Station, but a report to the Transport Committee says rising costs for the other projects mean that this scheme is currently in limbo.

It says: “Approval of the change request (for additional funding for the other station schemes) will mean there is insufficient funding available to deliver the scheme at Shipley Rail Station.

“It is anticipated that the remaining funds will be used to develop the Shipley scheme to outline business case, where it will then be pipelined until further funding is available.”