CAR parking spaces at Portadown Railway Station will be reduced by 21 when the newly refurbished station opens next summer.
The station is undergoing a £4 million upgrade to bring it up to modern-day standards and while this has been unanimously welcomed, the loss of parking spaces is giving rise for concern.
According to Translink, the number of standard car parking spaces will be reduced from 92 to 66 while the number of disabled spaces will rise from five to 10. There will also be more spaces for motorbikes and push bikes.
Portadown solicitor Sean Hagan said, “As it stands, it is very difficult to get a parking space in the station car park or near it. They are pouring millions into a fancy, new station and there will be nowhere to park.”
Mr Hagan said he had approached the Department of Social Development (DSD) about using the piece of adjacent derelict ground at Curran Street as a car park. He said, “I know this has been earmarked for other development but that will take years before it gets off the ground.
“In the meantime, the ground could be used as a car park, to enable people to travel by train. People increasingly are choosing not to take their car to Belfast but they need somewhere to park near the station.
“I was told by a DSD representative that Translink had approached them about Curran Street but were told the site had been allocated for other uses.”
A local businessman based in the Obins Street area, who does not wish to be named, said the area around Obins Street and Park Road was already busy with commuters using the roadway to park and that the car parks around the station were also packed.
He said, “They are building a big station in the town and they are doing it without extra car parking spaces. It doesn’t make sense. They are also talking about building houses in Curran Street - it’s space which would be better used for parking.”
There have also been claims that workers are opting to park on the roadside in and around the station to avoid having to pay the new parking charges at Magowan Buildings and other DRD car parks.
A spokesperson for Translink said, “The works being carried out at Portadown station will greatly improve accessibility for passengers with disabilities, while the introduction of taxi spaces, the turning circle and set down and pick up points at the front of the station will increase traffic flow and ease congestion for all passengers.
“In order to make these improvements in a limited space however, there will be a reduction in standard car parking spaces for passengers. Alternative car parks are available adjacent to the station and Translink will look at any further opportunities that arise to increase the station car parking.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Social Development (DSD) said, “DSD still intends this site to be regenerated as planned. However, in its present condition the site is not deemed suitable for car parking.”
The upgrade, which is well under way, will not only transform the appearance of the station but will make it accessible for the disabled, bringing it into line with current legislation.
A lift will be installed from the Woodhouse Street entrance - replacing the 30 steps up to the concourse - and there will be a walkway and lifts to platforms across the railway lines.
Other main innovations include a cafe and shop, a re-designed entrance from the Wilson Street side and better pick-up facilities.