PLANS are in motion that could see Portsmouth’s busiest train station given a substantial face-lift.
Portsmouth City Council is in talks with South Western Railway — the new rail franchise operator for the region —regarding proposals to give Portsmouth Harbour station a ‘real sprucing up.’
This is a big aspiration of ours and it would be fair to say it needs a lot of work at the moment in terms of its facade.Councillor Simon Bosher, cabinet member for transport
The station saw 2,162,417 journeys made last year but after 140 years of operations it is in need of a substantial makeover of its facade.
Following meetings with the new rail operator – which is joint-owned by First Group & MTR – the council made the case for prioritising the harbour station over Portsmouth & Southsea station and now design work on a scheme is set to take place.
The operator has already pledged to bring 18 new faster trains to the city’s network to speed up trains between the city and London as part of a £90m package for its newly-acquired network.
Councillor Simon Bosher, cabinet member for transport, said now is the time for the station to be looked at.
He said: ‘We spoke to the new operator and made clear our aspirations to give both the stations a real sprucing up. They were told we could only have one station developed so we went for the harbour station.
‘This is a big aspiration of ours and it would be fair to say it needs a lot of work at the moment in terms of its facade.’
Cllr Bosher pointed to the recent opening of the £7m Hard Interchange to showcase that the station could be remodelled to complete a modern look for the area alongside Gunwharf Quays.
He said: ‘It is only natural to look at the station as we have spent a fair amount of money on the fantastic new interchange and it really is in the perfect surroundings along the waterfront with HMS Warrior and the Spinnaker Tower dominating the views.
‘We feel there is an opportunity to do something very special with that site. The operator has given us very positive messages so far.’
Work on the site could lead to the opening of a walking route directly from the station into the shopping complex.
A spokesperson for South Western Railway said: ‘We have met local stakeholders and are aware of aspirations for the future. We are considering these as we plan our £90m station investment across the network.’
Liberal Democrat councillor Lynne Stagg, opposition spokeswoman for transport, said the station needed a new entrance.
She said: ‘The new bus interchange really does show up the station as it does look quite tired and tattered.
‘For many people coming into Portsmouth, it is their first view of the city before they head to Gunwharf or the Isle of Wight and it really needs some work.’
Cllr Stagg recalled when the Queen visited the city back in 2014, arriving at the station.
She said: ‘I remember when she came to the station that I felt ashamed about the state of it.
‘It is clear that works need to take place there to speed it up.’
Last year, the Office of Rail and Road recorded Portsmouth Harbour as the city’s busiest train station.
Next was Portsmouth and Southsea which carried 2,113,681 journeys with Havant named the area’s busiest station with 2,375,640 trips.