TRANSPORT bosses behind a £8.5m railway station regeneration project in Yorkshire have been slammed as “inflexible and unimaginative” after it emerged the project would be finished more than a year late.
The Platform for Change - Redeveloping Rotherham Railway Station scheme was unveiled with great fanfare in early 2010, with councillors hailing it as a “major step forward” for the town.
Project managers at the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) said they would create a “state-of-the-art railway station” with funding largely from the European Regional Development Fund.
Other partners involved in the project were Rotherham Council, Network Rail, Northern Rail, Yorkshire Forward and the Department for Transport.
The “transformation” was supposed to be complete by last Christmas but it overran, and this summer SYPTE predicted that it would be complete by the autumn.
However, work is far from finished, and Rotherham MP Denis MacShane said constituents were furious with the delays. He added: “I am going to write to the transport secretary Justine Greening, who comes from Rotherham herself, about this.
“It is outrageous and sends out totally the wrong signal when relatively minor public sector jobs take so long.
“The Chinese seem to be able to build a new power station or an Olympic stadium in less time than it has taken to put a new roof over Rotherham railway station.
“It is symbolic of the lack of drive and urgency we see with projects of this kind. It was a very disagreeable station to use and it is now worse for the elderly or families in particular.
“The project has become an eyesore in the centre of Rotherham and we all want it sorted. It is unacceptable and is shows what it so wrong with the current arrangements for public construction and procurement.
“Project managers talk about ‘shovel ready’ projects - this is ‘shovel late’ and I will be tabling parliamentary questions to find out what has gone wrong and how much this has cost. It is like something from Soviet era.
SYPTE said the works on the station began in February 2010 and were originally due for completion in December 2010.
The organisation admitted the overall completion date is now forecast to be the end of next February, but was working towards passengers having “partial occupation” of the new facilities early in the new year.
David Young, SYPTE’s director of customer experience, said: “Works to transform Rotherham Station into a high-class, customer friendly facility are nearing completion and we are confident that people will love the results once it opens.
“The works have taken longer than we had first hoped as we have had to demolish and then rebuild the station whilst keeping services open to the public.
“This has been the right thing to do as more than half a millon passenger journeys are made each year from the station, but it has been challenging.
“The station will have improved access for those with mobility problems.”
But Mr MacShane said people had little faith in the new promises. He said: “I have to say, that having dealt with the local passenger transport executive and having tried to engage with staff on other ideas I am not surprised at the situation we find ourselves in now.
“They are inflexible, unimaginative and frankly don’t deliver much for Rotherham.”