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Work begins on Network Rail signalling centre
IT’S BEEN heralded as a massive boost to Basingstoke’s local economy – and last week a milestone was reached as construction started on turning a derelict former car park into a multi-million pound rail centre.
Basingstoke MP Maria Miller cut the first sod last Friday to officially kick-start construction of the multi-million pound Network Rail signalling and training centre.
The £10million building, in Gresley Road, north of Basing View, is expected to be finished by November next year, creating 500 jobs.
The new centre will be Network Rail’s signalling hub, controlling trains travelling in the south east and London. It is part of the operator’s £1billion plan to consolidate more than 800 signalling points across the county into 12 super hubs.
Rail bosses say centres like Gresley Road will increase rail efficiency, network capacity, and reduce delays.
Sam McCarthy, commercial director for the Network Rail and South West Trains Alliance, said: “This centre will be a vital part of operating the railway in the south and south west of England and establish Basingstoke as an important part of the rail network.
“It will help to provide a better, safer and more reliable railway and deliver significant efficiencies to contribute to making the railway more cost effective.”
Closer to home it represents a multi-million pound investment in the town and, according to Mrs Miller, it is a “fantastic vote of confidence” that Basingstoke is open to business.
“What we are seeing is important inward investment in the town showing us as one of the top 10 in the south east,” Mrs Miller added. “Not only is it bringing new business into Basingstoke it is a centre that will increase capacity on our railways.”
The development will also include a new footbridge crossing the railway line to Basing View, funded by the borough council and Network Rail.
There are also plans in the pipeline to build a new multi-story car park off Gresley Road, to cater for the 5,000 new jobs expected over the next 10 years which will result from the revamp of the Basing View business park.
Borough council deputy leader Councillor Ranil Jayawardena said the project is the start of a number of significant business boosts for Basingstoke.
“This significant investment just demonstrates that Basing-stoke really is a great place to do business,” he said.
“This is sending the right message to the business community.”
As previously reported in The Gazette, the John Lewis Partnership is seeking to build a John Lewis at home and Waitrose superstore in Basing View, and in October last year, Government Transport Secre-tary Patrick McLoughlin announced a £4.3million revamp of Black Dam Roundabout.
Borough council chief executive Tony Curtis said: “Network Rail is another step forward in the development of the town and securing our economic future.
“It comes on top of Airkix, Waitrose and John Lewis, and it is evidence of a very positive future for Basingstoke.”
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