Fears over changes proposed to historic King’s Lynn train station

PLANS to revamp the entrance to King’s Lynn’s Victorian railway station have come under fire from the town’s civic society.

It claims that closing off the side entrance to the station will inconvenience the elderly, the disabled and those with heavy luggage.

Train operator First Capital Connect wants to install new automatic ticket barriers at the main entrance to Platforms One and Two at the station, off Blackfriars Road.

It also wants to install CCTV cameras to monitor the barriers and re-locate the station’s customer information office.

But the side entrance to the station from an adjacent car park will also be closed off to passengers as part of the proposals.

Sally Smith, secretary of the King’s Lynn Civic Society, said: “The current proposal is to permanently close the side entrances on the north side of the station, except in emergencies.

“This is the entrance which is used by those arriving by taxi or being set down and collected by private car.

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“It provides direct access to Platform One from which most trains depart. If this entrance is closed, passengers will have to walk right round to the front of the station and back through the booking hall.”

The civic society has objected to the planning application, which it claims does not consider the needs of the elderly, disabled or those with heavy luggage.

It argues that if the automatic gates were moved elsewhere in the station, they could cover both entrances without needing to close off the side to passengers.

“We’re not opposed to the barriers, but they don’t seem to have factored in the needs of the less-able or the disabled,” said Ms Smith.

Thousands use the station each day, many of them early morning commuters catching the fast through service from Lynn to Cambridge and London King’s Cross.

Among its more famous users are one or two of the celebrities living on the north Norfolk coast - along with the Queen, who sometimes travels to and from Norfolk by train when she is staying at Sandringham.

There are proposals to double the frequency of trains in each direction from hourly to half-hourly, to cope with the growing number of passengers using the service.

This will require major investment from central government, to dual part of the line between Downham Market and Littleport, which is currently single-track, to accommodate the extra trains. A decision is expected from Whitehall next year.

Along with the automated barriers, First Capital Connect also plans to redecorate the information centre and other areas of the King’s Lynn station.

But one user commenting on the planning application on West Norfolk council’s website says: “I consider this to be an uneccessary alteration to a largely intact Victorian railway station which deserves to be retained in its historic state.”