COMPLETION of an £8m scheme to redevelop the forecourt at Didcot Parkway rail station is set to be completed in the next fortnight.
The transport hub, the county’s busiest station after Oxford, has been reorganised to make it safer for cars, buses, cyclists, taxis and pedestrians to use.
Town councillor Margaret Davies said: “People in Didcot have been very patient.
“When they started work in 2012 the estimated finishing date was September 2013, but with such a major project you can expect some delay.”
Work on the new interchange will be completed in the next fortnight, according to Didcot West county councillor Nick Hards.
A new sign has just gone up to welcome commuters and other visitors to the station’s transport interchange and Mr Hards said contractor Birse was now putting the finishing touches to the scheme.
He added: ”I expect the forecourt to be complete in the next fortnight.
“It’s all looking very impressive and it will be a much better welcome to Didcot.
“There will be some resurfacing work on Station Road in October but that should be everything.
“I would like to see some maps go up showing visitors where everything is in Didcot, including the Cornerstone Arts Centre.
“There are plans for a new hotel on the Didcot island site opposite the station and that would be another big improvement.”
Demolition work started on the forecourt in April 2012 and the scheme is nearing completion despite the discovery in June of buried asbestos, which increased the total cost of the scheme by £1.3m.
Dave Pryor, of Pryors Taxis in Didcot, said: “It has been quite chaotic over the past couple of years but we are due to have a completed station any day now – they are just finishing it off.
“Buses will move into the central section – it’s imminent and will be a big improvement.
“A new taxi rank with a bigger capacity has been running since April.”
The station is owned by Network Rail and run by First Great Western (FGW) but Oxfordshire County Council has provided most of the funding as the highways authority.
Work inside the station, including the renovation of the ticket office, has been completed by First Great Western and Network Rail.
FGW spokesman James Davis added that a scheme to deck parking areas in the Foxhall Road car park behind the station, backed by City Deal funding from central government, was due to be carried out at a date to be fixed.
DOGGED BY DELAYS
A SCHEME to redesign the forecourt at Didcot Parkway was first mooted in 2001.
It was not until 2011 that Oxfordshire County Council was ready to go ahead with the current scheme, but the start date was put back twice while First Great Western and Network Rail made sure all the correct paperwork was in place.
Some 2.8m passengers used the station in 2012/2013.
The scheme had an extra £1.3m added to its budget, bringing it to £8m, after asbestos was found.
Work started in September 2012, and was expected to be finished within a year, but various delays put back the construction by a year, including unexpected problems with ground conditions.