Published: 00:01, 28 March 2014
Work on Rochester’s new railway station is set to temporarily derail the town’s thriving farmers’ market, which is being forced to relocate for the busy Easter weekend.
The £26m transformation project is under way and the work by Network Rail involves creating the underpass for the station, a major piece of engineering work.
Market stallholders have been told that the Corporation Road car park will not be available for the Easter market on Sunday, April 20 and have been asked instead to relocate to the English Festival.
But the switch of venue to the Riverside Country Park festival, has not proved popular with all traders.
Mike Mallet, of Whitegates farm, a fruit and vegetable supplier at the market, said: “We will not be going to the English Festival, because I have tried having a stall at special events like festivals and vintage car shows before and they don’t work.
“I’m sure many of my customers will be disappointed we are not in the usual place.”
Peter McCarthy of McCarthy’s Bakery, said he would give the festival a try, but added: “The move is a pain, especially as the market is going so well.”
Rochester’s remodelled station is due to open by Christmas 2015 and will feature a new car park built on the other side of the tracks and linked via a foot subway.
A Medway Council spokesman said that relocation work by Network Rail had forced the temporary move but that the English Festival might attract new customers to the market.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We are sorry for the disruption our work over Easter is causing to the farmers’ market.
“This is a serious piece of engineering work and will see the underpass for the new Rochester station driven under the railway and into its final position. As well as forming the access to the new station, the underpass will allow easy access to the river side of the railway for everyone."
Rochester Farmers’ Market will be at the English Festival on Saturday, April 19, from 10am-5pm, returning to its usual car park location from Sunday, May 18.
Meanwhile, a public meeting is being held tomorrow in the wake of opposition to a new platform at Rainham railway station.
People living near the station have objected to work taking place to create a third platform which will allow more trains to stop at the town.
A new track is being laid to a bay platform set to be built on the south side of the existing platform. The new addition will mean services which currently stop at Rochester or Gillingham will continue along to Rainham, before heading back towards London.
People living in Tufton Road, with homes that back onto the track, are worried about increased noise and lack of privacy.
Owen O’Neill, who has lived in Tufton Road for almost 50 years, said: “The track will be closer to our homes and we want to know what arrangements have been made to stop invasion of privacy.
“It is not a through platform so it is likely that trains will stand there with their motors ticking over and carriageways will be cleaned at night. There will also be increased noise from the sound of tannoys.”
He added: “Most people along here are not against change but we haven’t been consulted. Network Rail are only holding a meeting because of pressure we have put on them.”
The meeting takes place at Rainham Oast Community Centre, next to the station at 10am.
Senior project managers will be available to answer questions at the meeting, which will be attended by Rainham North councillor David Carr (Con) and David Harris, principal planner at Medway Council.
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