IN PICTURES: Stafford railway station to undergo £1million overhaul
Stafford railway station is to undergo a £1 million revamp which will begin in September.
Virgin Trains, which runs the station, today unveiled plans that will see the entrance, ticket hall, and foyer transformed.
The work is set to last 16 weeks and is being carried out in a bid to bring facilities up to 21st Century standards.Station manager Arif Mahmood said: "I am really excited about this project.
"It is the biggest set of improvements since the 1970s and 1980s.
"It will be a huge opportunity for us to enhance our customer experience. We will make it simple and easier for the customer."
The station saw passenger numbers hit 2.1 million last year – up six per cent on the previous 12 months. The work will see glass barriers removed from the ticket inquiry desks, a podium for staff to welcome passengers and a customer service desk.
The Pumpkin Cafe will be revamped, with Virgin currently in talks with potential tenants, while the WH Smith newsstand will be turned into a customer service desk. The travel help centre next to WH Smith will be transformed into a second, larger shopping area which will provide more space for refreshment and the sale of products. Again, Virgin is in talks with potential tenants.
Station bosses say the LK Gourmet Coffee Unit on the platform will be unaffected.
The number of self-service fast ticket machines will be doubled to four and a waiting room will also be increased in size.
The project is part of a £20 million investment by Virgin Trains in its West Coast Main Line franchise, including £8m on railway stations. A separate project planned for a later stage will see platform waiting rooms redesigned.
Retail team leader Fiona-Anne Main, who has worked at the station for 16 years, said: "This is the biggest project to take place at the station I can recall in my time here.
"Getting rid of the glass barrier will enhance face-to-face interaction between staff and passengers and mean we are better placed to help passengers. I can remember the days when people queued to get tickets from the ticket office – now they buy in advance and collect from a machine.
"The attendants will carry an iPad and be on hand at a Welcome to Stafford podium in the foyer to help with inquiries, meaning customers do not need to queue up in the ticket line. It is all about making it a better and positive experience."
Mr Mahmood added: "Arriving at a train station can make passengers nervous. 'Where is the platform? What time is the train due?' Am I going to be waiting a long time in a queue?'. This revamp aims to make it easier and straight forward for our customers."
On the work taking place, Mr Mahmood said: "There is a priority that disruption is kept to an absolute minimum – it is key that we continue to offer all the services that we do now during the work. The work will be carried out in three phases so it will not affect passengers.
"They will still be able to buy tickets, get a hot drink or buy a newspaper." By September, 21 of the Virgin Trains high-speed Pendolino fleet will have undergone a £5.1m overhaul which will boost the number of standard seats by a 5,500 a day.
The three-storey car park was the last major work at the station costing £8m and providing 522 spaces – 272 more than was previously available. It opened in 2010 and was paid for by Network Rail.
Stafford is a major station on the West Coast Main Line with services from London, Manchester, Glasgow and Liverpool passing through.
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