Published: 13:13, 02 December 2021
| Updated: 14:23, 03 December 2021
Scores of people gathered at Maidstone East railway station to celebrate the official opening of the £5.2million project.
Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Fay Gooch was joined by two pupils from Allington Primary School, as well as councillors and representatives from Network Rail and Kent County Council, to cut the ribbon outside the new look station.
Commuters and visitors to the event mingled inside the station at around 10.30am, enjoying tea and coffee, snacks and conversation, while escaping the icy cold conditions outside.
One attraction which stole the limelight was of course Iggy the Iguanodon who was freed from their caged surrounding for the first time in months.
Work on the multi-million project started in September 2019, but was finally finished just over two years later after some setbacks due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The redevelopment of the town's main railway station is being funded by the rail industry through the National Stations Improvement Programme with the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund programme.
Moment before helping cut the ribbon council leader David Burton said: "This is the completion of a huge project, but one towards our steps to improving the borough.
"We've had many other things including a new children's play area, the bus station being recently refurbished, the innovation centre is imminent and today it's Maidstone East and the official opening.
"It's a journey we're on to improve, make better, regenerate and actually make Maidstone an exciting and vibrant place to be."
Fiona Taylor, Network Rail's Route Director for Kent, added: "The upgrade of this station clearly means a lot to many people. It means a lot to the local community.
"It means a lot to the railway family, to Network Rail, to Southeastern, who run the station and their staff who work here day in and day out tirelessly.
"It matters to our community rail partners, our contractors, Maidstone Borough Council, Kent County Council and to everyone who's played a part in delivering these improvements.
"Everyone here wanted to create a station which was fitting for the 21sr century and provided a gateway to this thriving town."