£14.3m drive for work go-ahead on new transport interchange

METRO and Wakefield Council are this week submitting a £14.3m bid to enable work on a new Castleford Transport Interchange to go ahead.

Transport chiefs say plans to replace Castleford's ageing and separate bus and rail stations with a modern transport interchange would represent a massive improvement for local passengers. They say their proposal would provide a modern gateway to Castleford, which would also act as a catalyst in the regeneration of the Five Towns area.

There were fears that the town's long-awaited multi-million pound bus and rail interchange could fall victim to Government spending cuts

Members of Castleford Town Centre Partnership (CTCP) together with Pontefract, Castleford and Normanton Labour MP Yvette Cooper, have launched a campaign to urge the Government to go ahead with the project. They want people to back their campaign to save the project by signing a petition, which will be presented to Government chiefs before they make their decision in the next few weeks.

Coun Mark Burns-Williamson, chair of the CTCP, said the threat to the project was a real blow to the town.

He said: "One of the aims is for the re-opening of the route back out to York and the East Coast. This scheme will help to do that and provide a much-needed boost to the long-suffering passengers and public who deserve to see this project get the support it deserves and was promised.

"We are all determined to fight for the delivery of this long-overdue facility for Castleford."

Last year, the Government announced the Castleford Interchange scheme would have to be re-appraised.

Last November the Government announced it would need to "undertake further analysis" before making a decision on whether to give cash to the project.

Combining Castleford's currently separate bus and rail stations at the Interchange would unlock town land for regeneration and redevelopment, and expressions of interest from developers will accompany the bid.

Also, there will be associated bus service improvements, which Metro says will provide better links with Leeds and the wider Five Towns area. I

It is hoped that the transport improvements will encourage businesses to invest in Castleford and create additional employment opportunities in the local area.

Coun Chris Greaves, Metro chairman said: "We believe that these goals put Castleford Interchange in line with the objectives of the Regional Growth Fund, which the Government has set up to support projects with significant potential for creating long- term private sector led economic growth and employment.

"Plans for the new facility, based around a covered waiting concourse linking bus stands and the rail platform and including a travel centre and units for a cafeteria and shops, are well advanced," continued Coun Greaves.

"If the Deputy Prime Minister, his ministerial colleagues, who will be making decisions on the Regional Growth Fund, agree that the Interchange meets their aims for the Fund and approve the bid, work could start later this year."

He said any show of support for the scheme could prove valuable and he encouraged as many people as possible to add their names to the petition by visiting www.gopetition.com/petition/41967.html

As part of the project the current bus station will be moved and several buildings, including the Royal British Legion Club, Masonic Hall and others are to be demolished to make way for the development.

The complex, which will be situated on land next to the town's existing railway station, will feature a covered central waiting area, a bus and rail travel centre, closed circuit TV coverage, real-time electronic departure displays, cycle parking, public toilets, long and short-stay car parking and a taxi rank.