Park-and-rail scheme could help city prosper

Southend could mirror New Zealand and Belgium after a “park-and-rail” scheme was mooted as a way to help the city prosper.

Kevin Buck, Tory councillor responsible for transport, says he is exploring the idea amid calls for the city to revive its failed park-and ride-scheme.

Park-and-ride was trialled in Southend in 2017 but passenger numbers were low leading to the idea being shelved.

Now renewed calls for it to be re-examined have been made and Mr Buck says park-and-rail to drive more passengers on to rail services at the edge of the city are being explored.

Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal Ward, told a place scrutiny committee he wanted to see the park-and-ride scheme explored.

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Dent said: “Bus transport is somewhere I think we as a city need to do better at to better enable our local economy.

“I recognise it to a degree as pie in the sky and it’s something we’ve all aspired to for a long time but some manner of park-and-ride facility perhaps based in Rochford cooperating with our neighbours to enable people to come part of the way by car and the rest of the way by a reliable, cheap, easy and ideally environmentally friendly form of public transport.”

In response, Mr Buck appeared to rule the suggestion out. He said: “A park-and-ride scheme in Southend has been a constant discussion point for many years. Some schemes have been tried in the past, proving to be unsuccessful and unviable.

“Whilst I would very much like to see a park-and-ride scheme for Southend, we are constrained by many determining factors.”

Cllr Buck said there were several obstacles in the way of Southend successfully implementing such a scheme.

He said: “The main challenges we face, are available land at the edge of the city to implement the significant out of town parking area needed, and re-allocating our already very well utilised existing carriageway space for a dedicated bus lane. “

Cllr Buck added: “There are no immediate or obvious solutions to overcome these challenges and I am exploring alternatives to this, such as a park-and-rail to help drive more passengers on to rail at the edge of the city and use the well-connected rail services to the city centre instead.”

Park and rail schemes have been introduced in other countries including in Belgium and New Zealand.

Advertisement

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter