Last week I met up with my contact in South Western Railways to run through the issues the railway station presents to Brookwood residents. He brought along a railway engineer with him as well which was very handy.
I’ve always viewed the railway station as fantastic piece of the history of Brookwood having opened in 1864. It’s bothered me that the railway companies have shown little respect to the history of the station when they have made modifications. Finding out a heritage team exists and that they can advise on improvements is good news now I’m aware of it.
There are about to be some refurbishment works to bring the platform one waiting room up to more modern standards with significant regard paid to environmental efficiency. This will see new lighting and heating put in. There’s also a chance to have a display of the stations’s heritage and its links to the cemetery installed round the same time and we’re looking into that.
We talked about the access challenges for people with mobility problems and people with push chairs when using platform two. The unsatisfactory argument at the moment is that passengers should use platform one to get on and off trains, and travel via Woking or Farnborough to use a lift depending on which direction you are heading. I’ve always found this wrong as it adds at least 40 minutes to journey times.
One of the challenges has been getting funding. In 2017/2018 the station served over a million passengers for the first time. There was a slight increase in 2018/2019, and then of course, Covid hit and less than a fifth of those totals used the station in 2020/2021. The most recent figures have seen passengers increase back over half a million, but it is still a long way short of past use.
Funding is complicated and I know the station isn’t in the current round of funding up towards the end of this decade. I believe it now needs to be pushed / lobbied by the local MP to gain traction and so it is my intention to have a discussion with Jonathan Lord MP and see what we might be able to achieve.
There used to be a weird noise by the car park behind the accountants that drove one or two residents mad. We believe this was the ANPR system and I reported it at the time; it wasn’t noisy when we checked it out this time.
SWR have a programme of works to install defibrillators at stations or signpost people to alternative ones if they are close by. I pointed out that there was one on the wall of Brookwood Club and they are investigating whether to install one themselves or just signpost to the Club.
There might also be a good bit of news for the residents along Connaught Road that have to live with the extended car park at the end of their gardens. When the new level was built, it shut out the natural light to the laurels growing there and it has caused significant light pollution, particularly late at night with car head lamps pointing directly into bedrooms. I’ve banged my head against a brick wall on this now for four years, but the engineer fellow that joined us offered up a potential solution of a low running barrier that would stop much of the light. There is nothing guaranteed here yet, but I feel a massive step in the right direction has been taken as at least SWR are talking about what could be done rather than their previous stance that there wasn’t anything they could do.
I’ve worked hard to keep good relations with SWR and I think we have achieved some good things there and I look forward to continuing that to try and make the station a good neighbour of the village.