Commuter safety concerns at Winchester railway station

Joanna Lewis says commuters are 'let down' by the new design.

Joanna Lewis says commuters are 'let down' by the new design.

First published in News Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A WINCHESTER commuter has joined the chorus of disapproval over the safety of women at Winchester’s revamped station car park.

The much-vaunted £3.7 million scheme includes a double-decked open air car park and over-rail bridge with lifts, but some travellers have said they are concerned about personal safety at night.

Resident Joanna Lewis, 46, an assistant professor of history at the London School of Economics, uses the station to get to London three times a week.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Pictured above: The new two-tier car park.

She said: “We have been badly let down by the design of the metal two-tier car park on the Andover Road side.

“By putting profit first, and very little else second, the result has not only been hideous visually, but it has made the new car park more dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair users.

“Serious concerns about personal safety at night have been raised again and again by female commuters, by parents worried about their teenagers using the station, by the retired, and by cyclists.”

The station is used by 4.5 million passengers a year, and Chris Holloway, director of Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC), said that anything that puts people off walking and cycling is “a bad idea”.

She said: “I think it’s a great pity that they have made facilities better for people in cars at the expense of making them pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists.

“On the other hand, there is an agreement between the railway and Hampshire County Council to improve pedestrian and cyclist access between Andover Road and the car park, and we are very pleased about that and look forward to it happening.”

Recently the station held a two-week trial to open the booking hall on platform two later in the evening to provide an alternative exit.

Ms Lewis added: “By choosing the lowest metal ceiling possible and building barriers around the perimeter, we now have a new symbol in the heart of ‘historic’ Winchester of urban desolation, and an argument for being twinned with east Croydon!”

Referring to a recent story about the station in the Chronicle, she added: “It’s all very well for transport officials to be photographed smiling outside the station on a sunny July day waving flags.

“But I doubt many commuters arriving late on a December evening will be grinning as they face retrieving their car from a parking cage, nor cyclists, heading for the bike cages, nor pedestrians denied a proper, safe path to walk along.”

Winchester MP Steve Brine said: “Concerns around safety at the station, especially for passengers arriving back into Winchester late at night, were raised at the ASKSWT meeting I organised, and lots of people are working hard to address the issue.

“I am pushing South West Trains really hard on all of this, and I know they are working with staff and their unions to increase the opening hours at the station.

“No-one thinks Winchester Station is ‘job done’, there are always improvements to be made.”

The car park capacity has increased by 20 per cent, providing an extra 113 spaces, and Mr Brine says the city council is looking in to reviewing lighting and CCTV.

What do you think about the station? Write to Chronicle letters.

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