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Train company criticised for lack of eco features at new car park

South West Trains has defended not installing charging points for electrical cars as part of multi-million improvements at Fleet railway station

Steve Forster with his electric powered car

A Fleet councillor is angry no electric vehicle (EV) charging points or parking spaces are being provided as part of the multi-million improvements taking place at the town’s railway station.

Town councillor Steve Forster said he was ‘aghast’ South West Trains (SWT) were being ‘so shortsighted’.

“It is sad that in Hart we have so few charging points and when new building works take place, such as at the station, they don’t plan for EVs,” he said.

Cllr Forster said train companies are installing electric charging points – people using Southern Railway’s station at Lewes are able to charge cars for free.

“It seems crazy SWT could spend all the money on a refurbishment of Fleet station and miss the opportunity, at minimal cost, to install EV charging points while doing the work. This would be far cheaper than retrofitting them. We need to encourage electric cars – as they are sustainable – by having dedicated parking spots in good locations for them.”

The new £2 million 448-space decked car park scheme at Fleet has been plagued by problems.

SWT announced work would start on November 18 but delayed it a week following an outcry from councillors who complained they had been kept in the dark about the proposals and warned it would cause parking chaos.

The £6 million overall redevelopment includes a modern main station building, a platform waiting shelter, improved forecourt arrangements and a replacement footbridge equipped with lifts.

Cllr Forster said SWT had failed where other organisations had succeeded, in planning ahead and installing charging points at the M3 Fleet Services, Morrisons in Aldershot and Redfields Garden Centre in Church Crookham.

“I’ve noticed three charging points at private houses I know of in Fleet and seen more than five EVs used in the town,” added Cllr Forster, who drives a BMW i3 EV and a Renault Twizy, both of which cost less than 3p a mile to drive.

“To encourage EV use for longer trips and for visitors to come to Fleet, we need charging points, and, since Fleet has attracted people by being one of the best places to live, we should assume many want to be green, and hence, want to use EVs.”

A spokesperson for the SWT-Network Rail Alliance said statistics show, of 5,000 electric cars in the UK, 80% are charged at home. “Where we have high car park usage, complaints are often received the car park is full, yet charging points are empty. It’s a difficult balancing act for us,” said the spokesman. He added, as part of Fleet station’s refurbishment, energy efficient lighting has been installed.

“We will monitor any requests from our passengers for charging points and will carry out research to determine if there are any ‘hot spots’ across the network where the installation of charging points would be beneficial to all our users,” he added.

Work on the decked car park should be finished by the end of the month, while all the improvement work at the station will be completed by mid-July.

 

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