Council Leader writes to Secretary of State about Beam Park Station delay
Councillor Ray Morgon, Leader of Havering Council, wrote to the Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, Secretary of State for Transport in December 2022 to highlight concerns regarding the delays to Beam Park station
Here is the letter in full:
Dear Secretary of State,
Beam Park Station
I am writing concerning the delay in bringing the proposed Beam Park station onto the railway network in the Thames Riverside Opportunity area between Dagenham Dock and Rainham stations (Thameside line).
Over five thousand new homes (of which 2400 are in Havering), across three development sites, depend on the opening of the station to become viable.
Numerous other transport, social, economic and environmental benefits will follow the construction of the station and I am enclosing here a report from the consultants Grant Thornton which assesses the wider impact that the station would have.
If you are not familiar with the area, I can tell you that it is currently extremely difficult to navigate on foot, by bicycle or in a motor vehicle.
The residents of 4,600 existing homes cannot at present reasonably get to the existing c2c stations at Rainham and Dagenham Dock to travel into central London for work.
The area close to the station, South Hornchurch, is high in deprivation, with low levels of educational attainment and high levels of unemployment.
The station will not only provide new economic opportunities but also improve public health by combining public transport with walking and cycling (both elements form the borough’s strategy to tackle obesity).
The proposed new station would be located within the new Thames Freeport and will provide the workforce with public transport access to the existing and new businesses establishing themselves there.
The new station at Beam Park would provide an opportunity to create new public transport, walking and cycling routes into one of the largest business-led opportunity areas in the country.
Indeed, it will also help the large number of local businesses attract new staff from the borough, where currently they are unable to travel there unless they have a car.
The proposed new station at Beam Park has long been part of Havering’s, the DfT’s, GLA’s, Network Rail’s and c2c’s plans.
- A new station at Beam Park was discussed in 2012 and confirmed when the ‘Stakeholder Briefing Document Essex Thameside Franchise Replacement (Updated)’ was issued to bidders in September 2013. The 2014 East Thameside franchise agreement and subsequent emergency measures agreements clearly carry various obligations on c2c to support the promotion of the station.
- Following a successful bidding process, Rainham and Beam Park was identified in 2015 as one of the GLA’s new ‘Housing Zones’ and the station forms part of the London Borough of Havering’s adopted Local Plan 2016-2031.
- The Network Rail East Thameside Route Study of July 2020 clearly suggests that Network Rail have presumed Beam Park Station will be opened.
While were disappointed that, in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, there appeared to be reticence from DfT officials for proceeding with the station project.
However, after correspondence with the previous Rail Minister, we were grateful for clarification that, if the station can demonstrate it is revenue generative over three consecutive years, then the Department is willing to take over the full operation of the station.
The funding is already in place to build the station; but this will be put at risk if the decision to build is not progressed.
It is now for the operator c2c to agree with GLA (and LBH) the performance impact and any compensation or indemnity. DfT indicated in the spring that the agreement should take about 9-12 months to negotiate and to resolve and to document an agreed position with ‘indemnity’.
However, since May 2022, only two meetings have taken place and c2c has indicated that it will need more time simply to consider the operational issues, which include driver availability and timetabling changes.
They have indicated that they will not be in a position to formally approve the operational plan until May 2023 (a nine month delay on the original plan to approve in September this year) on the grounds that there is not enough post-Covid data on railway performance.
We have not even started to work with them on the commercial and financial issues.
This is simply unacceptable to all other stakeholders, who are relying on approval of the new station before new house-building and economic regeneration of the area can begin.
We already know that the new station will bring thousands of new passenger railway journeys onto the network from residents living around Beam Park.
New housing developments further along the line out to Essex promise to add yet more passengers to the Thameside line.
It is not reasonable to hold up the whole project until an assessment of performance on the line has been made; it feels like an excuse.
It is deeply concerning to us that the station is being held up by one party (whose franchise is soon to be subsumed within GB Railways) with little or no incentive to progress the approval of the station.
We are therefore writing to request that you take an interest in this issue, demonstrate that you care about the challenging issues faced by this area of East London, and intervene to ensure that the timetable is kept on track, so that this station can be open by the end of 2025.
My colleagues and I would be very happy to meet to discuss this issue with you and your officials at any time.
Please be in no doubt as to our commitment to seeing the station delivered.