Published: 14:01, 14 December 2015
Teams from Network Rail and Southeastern have been working round the clock to prepare Rochester’s £26m new station for its opening yesterday.
The first train was the 5.21am to London Victoria, and this moring was there a VIP tour of the station with guests including transport minister Claire Perry.
Passengers will now be able to use five extra trains to London in the morning and one extra return train in the evening; services which had not previously been able to stop at the old station.
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Rail minister Claire Perry said: “This is a really impressive new station for Rochester, which is now delivering better journeys for passengers in the area, as well as transforming rail capacity and connectivity. It is a station the town can be proud of and offers a big opportunity to boost economic growth in the area."
Two months ago project bosses pledged they were on course to meet the deadline.
Video: Rochester's new station is now open.
Network Rail’s route managing director Alasdair Coates said: “Everyone who is working on this project knows how important it is to the future of Rochester and the regeneration of the riverside here.
“We also know that commuters want more trains and more reliability, to match the new station. Our work will allow 12-car trains to call at Rochester for the first time and our ongoing rebuilding of the railway in the Medway Towns will also improve reliability for passengers.
“It is really great to be part of the railway renaissance here in Kent."
Southeastern’s managing director David Statham added: “Medway is a very important part of our commuter network and is continuing to grow as regeneration gathers pace.
“I am very pleased that this new station is opening in Rochester and that commuters will benefit from it.
“The station is also much closer to the heart of Rochester than the old one used to be, which is great for residents, great for local traders and great for the hundreds of thousands of sightseers that visit the area each year for its festivals and amazing heritage such as the cathedral and castle and, of course, Rochester High Street.”
Passenger numbers at Rochester have doubled over the last decade to 1.3m journeys a year; and the station is part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan to increase capacity and reliability.
Linked to the riverside at Rochester via a subway, it is hoped the station will also open up the area and make it more suitable for development.
A new multi-storey car park will open nearby in 2016.