Interchange plan given green light

FUNDING to kick-start a multi-million pound plan to transform bus and rail services in Castleford has been approved by transport bosses.

Travel operator Metro announced last week it will lead phase one of the three-stage Castleford Interchange project which is expected to cost around £4m.

Members of West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) approved Metro’s bid for £250,000 to start design work on an overhaul of the town’s bus station.

Airedale Coun Yvonne Crewe, Metro district spokesperson for Wakefield, said: “I am pleased my ITA colleagues have given their approval so that the project can progress.

“These plans will provide bus users in Castleford with a facility in line with Metro’s award-winning bus stations across West Yorkshire, while further work can provide train passengers with better facilities and improved interchange.”

Metro has drawn up proposals for a drive-in reverse-out bus facility at the Albion Street station with electronic information, CCTV coverage and improved waiting facilities and travel information.

The development also includes an improved link between the town’s bus and rail stations and enhancements to the railway station itself, to be led by Wakefield Council and railway chiefs, and is expected to be completed by March 2014.

Coun Peter Box, leader of the council, said: “A new improved transport service is important for our regeneration plans for Castleford and the surrounding area.

“Originally we were looking to pursue a fully integrated public transport interchange, with bus and rail facilities on one site. Although these new plans are on a smaller scale, it will still deliver a vital western gateway into the town centre.”

The council lost a £17m bid for government funding in 2010 for a state-of-the-art bus and rail interchange in Castleford.

Castleford Coun Mark Burns-Williamson, who launched a petition to save the scheme last year, said both stations were “crying out” for improvements.

He added: “It was a massive disappointment losing the funding, given some of us had worked for ten years or more putting the plan together.

“Some significant funding has been found to take this forward so it’s good news in that sense, it recognises that urgent works are desperately needed at both stations.

“But the railway station for me is a priority. We’ve got to get that other platform up and running. It’s nonsense that trains are going through there that can’t stop.”