Kempston Retail Park Station on Bedford-Bletchley Railway

pictures-from-the-90s0004Recent articles and correspondence in local papers regarding solutions to congestion along Ampthill Road, Bedford suggest the solutions may be simpler than the politics of getting things done.

The English Regional Transport Association (ERTA) have long advocated a new station to serve the Retail Park, Kempston on the Bedford-Bletchley Railway which runs alongside the Retail Park and with a connecting footbridge would link it and Kempston giving more options to get to and from the Retail Park.

It would open the Retail Park to wider audiences and with East-West Rail coming along, could be added to that service. The site could have an extended car park off of Southfields Road, not Magnolia Close, so as not to disrupt local residents.

The concern is that it is easier to get funding for road schemes than rail but speeding up traffic may go against the interest of pedestrians, cyclists and the environment, remembering Ampthill Road is still a residential area.

  • Would you like to see Kempston added to the railway map?
  • Would you like to see Kempston included on the Bedford-Bletchley Railway?
  • Would you like to get on a train at Kempston to go to Oxford direct without having to drive?
  • Would you like to access rail without having to go into Bedford and out again?

ERTA has the answer:

  • A new station to serve Kempston Town and the Retail Park
  • A connecting foot-cycle bridge between the Retail Park and all that Kempston has to offer and vice versa
  • Easier connections to Elstow, The Retail Park and Kempston without recourse to busy and dangerous roads and junctions (Elstow and Ampthill Roads).
  • Less congestion into Bedford and along Ampthill Road turning right into  the Retail Park.

The Retail Park has over 1500 parking slots increasingly full x 7 days a week. Meanwhile town centres experience ‘empty shop syndrome’. Is there a link? We believe so, it is called the ‘missing link’ and the solution to it is to:

Open a New Station ‘Kempston Town/Retail Park’ and re-rail Kempston with Bedford!

  • Bus Links to Kempston and the Retail Park would benefit from people coming across the railway either way and using them for further afield: Kempston and Bedford one side, Ampthill and Wixams the other for example. ‘Everyone’s a winner’!
  • The Marston Vale Railway needs a more robust and consistent performance, time-table, longer units with more bike and luggage capacity as well as bi-hourly Sunday and Bank Holiday workings. By just 10% of 1500 daily parking spaces additionally brought in by rail with a station, most of which would be off peak users; the figures per train would be improved, giving signals to would-be investors in the railway additional outlay like better all-day safe parking at select other halts like Woburn Sands and Bow Brickhill for example, electrification and Watford integrations as well as East-West Rail; makes ever more sense.
  • The prestigiousness in putting ‘Kempston Town’ on the local and regional rail network should not be under-estimated for useful marketing, better access options. The reach and range for improving the quality of life chances for all citizens; including a healthier environment/lower standing exhaust emissions.
  • It would arc and bridge the Interchange Retail ‘success’ with Bedford Town Centre by rail, bus, cycle and road and make a better integration of a more wholistic shopping potential and experiences, than poles apart as if a ‘shopping centre within a shopping centre, a town within a town, a society within a society’!

It is amazing to think that the Interchange Retail Park is over 20 years old, has parking for 1500 car park spaces, which are full most days of the week outside peak am/pm commute times and the site is expanding across the B530 road.

But isn’t it even more ‘amazing’ that this ‘success’ is in sharp contrast to dwindling Bedford and Kempston centre shops, burgeoning charity chain stores doing pretty much the same and a lack of a station with a footbridge-cycle access between Kempston and the Interchange Retail Park which would open up the area up to more footfall and spend, reduce drive-time fuel wasted in congestion; when for smaller items a 500-metre walk or cycle could suffice?

If we want ‘integration’ and less ‘town centre empties’ then the station could add positively to help with ‘bridging’ both ways. For Bedford, Kempston, the Interchange Retail Park and much more, ERTA believes the station idea is ‘just the ticket’ and long waited already. The owners are encouraged to show leadership to rectify and work constructively with us and others to ensure a timely delivery of it please.

Can you offer to front up the local effort to give it the face, insightful and ‘credible local touch’, grow a team of activists and help usher the station to fruition sooner than later? Please join and help us convene and grow a local team to bring the new Kempston Station to fruition, sooner than later. Actions, do speak louder than words sometimes!

We invite others to join us and help with realising these goals, please add your support by:

  • Joining ERTA – fill in the form on the Membership Page and send it off or bring to a forum organised by ERTA.
  • Write to your elected representatives: Kempston Town Council, Bedford Borough Council, Local M.P’s,  MEP’s and Mayoral Candidates, or to the South Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SMLEP) at Cranfield as well as your local newspapers and tell people why you support what we’re flagging up here.
  • ERTA has willing consultants and is seeking to raise funds to commission our own studies.

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