Further calls for improvements at Bognor Railway Station have been made this week.
Responding to town councillors’ claims that the station is ‘unfriendly and unwelcoming’, Angela Smith, the labour leader in the House of Lords, said the condition of the station is ‘unacceptable’.
She added: “I have lived in Bognor for three and a half years and we were promised improvements at the station.
“There is no newspaper stands or a cafe and the ticket office is also closed.
“The station has great staff but the company just haven’t done enough for its passengers.”
The former MP said she is ‘deeply unimpressed’ at Southern for not redeveloping the station.
She added: “The empty spaces in the station is unacceptable. Southern just needs to improve the service it offers it’s passengers.”
Michael Jones, Crawley Borough and West Sussex county councillor, said the station is ‘bleak and unfriendly’.
He added: “I come to Bognor to visit my parents in South Bersted. The station no longer has any personal touches. They have been talking about a new digital hub but that’s gone quiet.
“Southern rail seems to do nothing about its priorities in the interests of its passengers.
“Regular users used to have a newspaper kiosk and a open cafeteria selling reasonably priced drinks and snacks. None of that has returned after the refit, naturally.”
Councillor Jones particularly lamented the closure of the Longford Road entrance.
He added: “It was a terrible decision that should be reversed immediately.
“At night you have to walk all the way round the station to get inside, which does not make it helpful for passengers in a rush to catch a train. It is so aggravating.”
Southern respond to concerns
Southern Rail has issued a fresh response to concerns about Bognor Railway Station, insisting that it is ‘working very hard’ to make the changes people have asked for.
A Southern spokesman said: “The station’s £2.5 million refurbishment was completed last year.
“We are working very hard to market the new retail spaces but current financial uncertainties have seen two potential tenants pull out of agreements and delays to other discussions.
“However, West Sussex County Council itself has agreed to take space and is progressing with its preparation.
“Outside the station we are improving security and cleanliness in the cycle storage area, by installing additional railings to create a single entrance covered by CCTV cameras, replacing the existing lighting with new LED units, and replacing the old pigeon netting. Network Rail will be fixing the leak in the concourse roof shortly.”
Observer readers share their views
A number of Observer readers have shared their views on what improvements need to made at the station.
Many shared councillors’ views that the station needs to bring in a newspaper stall and cafe.
Betty Cunningham wrote: “Please please put a coffee shop in there you have to go over the road to get one and some time you don’t have much time.”
Pam Frame agreed. She said: “I think it was better before, all that money spent [but still] no cafe, no newspaper stall, no toilets, no waiting room. The side gate locked and would make it easier for people to leave the station if it was open.”
Bethan Phipps said the inner area ‘needs cleaning’.
She added: “It would be nice to have a cafe or the news agent stand working again, maybe some newspapers. There are no toilets anymore and the place is closed off. Some nature would be nice as well.”
Similary, Dave Howson said: “All those people passing through and no coffee shop or newsagents.
“Stop people drinking and smoking next to the bike racks and improve these facilities for train users.”
Dave also suggested that the station introduces a Butlins shuttle service, whilst Tony Dixon said the roof should have been fixed, cleaned and painted on the platform side.
He added: “There was a perfectly good cafe - they should be encouraged back, there was a good newsagent - they should also be encouraged back. The gardens at the front are sterile and unwelcoming.”
Dawn Roberts said she particularly misses Nathan’s cafe, which closed in June 2016.
She added: “It was the best at the train station, they were a lovely couple that ran it and it was very cheap too for food and drinks.”
Olive Silva agreed. She said: “I felt sorry for their loss. They had put so much effort into what was a lovely venue.”
Andrew Parker said the station needs a cycle Hub with key card entry for bike users.
He added: “They have one at Worthing, Horsham and Brighton stations. They also need to move the ticket gate line next to the new ticket office to stop some of the problems they have with the not so nice lads of the South Coast causing issues for staff.”
Gill Gallagher suggested that the station needs to be brightened up.
He wrote: “[It needs] a decent waiting room, cafe/bar and somewhere to securely keep bikes. There is so much wasted space that could house pop up shops etc. Open all the exits.”
A common suggestion was to fix the station clock.
Colin Whiting said: “I thought they were going to fix the clock month’s ago. We are still waiting. It’s become a joke.”
Judith Crisp Colin said the condition of the station is a ‘whiting Shame’.
She added: “It is a fabulous listed building, rail network and Bognor should be proud of it.”
Jacky Reid said the station is ‘cold and unwelcoming’. She added: “Not a very good first impression of supposedly sunny Bognor.
Pauline Veck joined calls to bring back the ‘welcoming cafe’ and compared the ‘always closed’ ticket office to a ‘very scary morgue’.