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Colchester Gazette, Friday 19th February 2010.
A REVAMPED train station was visited by a Government minister.
Chris Mole, transport minister with responsibility for railways, yesterday saw the improvements made at Colchester’s Hythe Station.
The station has been modernised with £600,000 of Government money to make it more attractive to passengers.
Greenstead resident Karen Waddy, who lobbied Colchester councillor Julie Young to ask for changes to the station, told Mr Mole she was pleased her requests had been granted.
She said: “I was called to jury duty in Chelmsford and I don’t drive. This station would have been perfect for me, but when I got down here, I was disgusted by the state of it.
“It is a shame the old station house had to go, but it definitely feels much safer now.”
The rundown Victorian station house was demolished and replaced with shelters, bicycle racks and digital timetable displays.
Essex County Council also paid for the platform to be extended to allow longer trains to stop there.
Despite the modernisation, the station still has no ticket machine and customers must buy a permit to travel to exchange later.
Mr Mole said the work was important because it would help ease congestion by encouraging people living in nearby new housing developments to use the train.
He said: “Having good access to public transport is key to sustainable development.”
Responding to the decision not to install a ticket machine, Mr Mole said: “You have got to have a really decent number of passengers to justify a ticket machine and if you put them in unstaffed locations, there is a high risk of vandalism.”
Passenger groups regularly call for more trains to be scheduled to call at Colchester Town from Hythe and other stations on the Clacton and Walton line, for the benefit of shoppers and people who work in the town centre.
Mr Mole said residents should make their views known as part of the Government consultation, which is taking place prior to the award of the regional rail franchise for the next ten years.
Kim Naish, Labour St Anne’s Colchester councillor, said: “We really want people in the area to use their local railway station.
“That will help ease congestion, which, of course is a serious problem in Colchester.