A picture Thanet Parkway railway station with a train at platform 1

Thanet Parkway Station. A dangerous white elephant.

At last, Thanet Parkway railway station opened this morning. At a cost of at least £45 million and rising – the final bills aren’t in. We now have another railway station in Thanet, number eight, but this is a railway station with a twist.

As more and more people understand the climate crisis, here we have a brand spanking new railway that you can only get to if you drive. Unbelievable isn’t it ? And although there’s a nice new bike rack – there’s no cycle path. In fact the only path at the station is into Cliffsend.

Also this station is unstaffed, meaning if you need a hand for any reason at all, help could be a very long way away. You’ll have to hang on and wait, even if it’s an emergency.

And oh, go before you go! It doesn’t have toilets. Apart from looking very austere, it’s certainly one of the least welcoming railway stations I’ve ever visited.

Thanet Parkway station a mistake

It’s interesting that even Kent County Council are now saying that this is a mistake. Once they realised that the proposed housing estate destined for the Manston site wasn’t going to happen, the folly of this giant spend was self evident.

I repeatedly called for the efficacy of this project to be looked at. I first spoke out about it in the council chamber in 2017, shortly after being elected, where I queried the stated future journey time to London. The glossy brochure said was faster. I pointed out they were quoting a time from Sandwich to Stratford. Even the railway’s own publicity admits that Stratford is not ‘London’.

For many years this poster was displayed at Stratford International station. It advertises Stratford to London in 7 minutes. So when they quote faster journey times from Thanet to London, check which ‘London’ they mean.

The truth is, if I use this station to travel to London, by the time I’ve left my home, got in my vehicle, driven to Thanet Parkway station and parked and then got on a train journey, door-to-office or door-to-theatre it’s actually going to take me longer! Not only this, the cost of car parking at the station means it’s actually more costly.

On the platform today, I felt very unsafe. I simply can’t imagine using this station at any time of the day let alone at night where I fear I would feel very isolated. This is a mugger’s paradise.

I failed to see what we’ve gained from this monstrous, dangerous white elephant.

Yet again, the ruling Conservative Kent County Council has let us down with its lazy short-sighted decision making. They lacked the bravery to do the right thing, especially after Covid when commuting changed forever. They needed to look at this decision and put the brakes on it. They didn’t.

BBC South East reports the facts and figures

The media were at Thanet Parkway station in force. In the clip from the BBC News, you can hear me expressing my view that the money could have been better spent.

This is an edited version of the report broadcast by the BBC.

Parkway building site video

The short film below was part of my 2021 Kent County Council election campaign. The footage was shot when Thanet Parkway station was still a building site.