Council commits to final funding for new Chelmsford rail station

Essex County Council has committed to the final stages of the financing for the proposed Beaulieu Park Railway Station in Chelmsford – but needs to mitigate the risk that the project may lead to a financial burden on Essex taxpayers.

It means a new train station with three platforms will open in 2026.

New tracks will enable services to call at Beaulieu Park Railway Station whilst faster trains pass through unimpeded. London will be a 40-minute journey.

The new station includes proposals for approximately 700 car parking spaces, cycle storage for 500 cycles and provides the provisions for a bus interchange to service north Chelmsford and the wider Essex area.

The latest programme gives a completion and operational date of 2025. Essex County Council, Chelmsford City Council, Network Rail and Countryside Zest are working together to secure the delivery of the station.

The project budget of £157.070m is being funded from three separate sources – section 106 development cash from Countryside Zest, the developer of Beaulieu Park worth £20.6m, Housing Infrastructure Funding from Homes England worth £124.5m and Local Growth Funding worth £12m.

However, if train uses fall below expectations and projections the cost falls onto Essex County Council with payment to the trains companies.

Councillor Lesley Wagland, cabinet member for member for economic renewal, infrastructure and planning said at cabinet on July 19: “As far as the number of passengers is concerned the target is one which is not as alarming as might otherwise be.

“The indications are they will be imminently manageable in light of the elements of return from COVID we are seeing at Chelmsford station.”

Huge housing developments at the Chelmsford Garden Community, a planned new development of 10,000 houses, and the current Beaulieu Park development near Springfield will provide significant number of users, it is believed.

Cllr John Spence (Cons, Chelmer) said; “This will result in cars accessing the station with much shorter journeys because many will not have to access central Chelmsford from the outlining areas and they will be able to get to the station from all this massive housing much more closely.”

He added: “We know now that we must mitigate the risk to avoid it being a financial burden on residents of Essex in the future. But we should be very clear. It is the scale and the quality and pugnaciousness of all those negotiations which will at last bring this long wanted station to fruition.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter