Uckfield’s new £750,000 station was officially opened yesterday (Tuesday). It marks the latest stage in the revival of the town’s rail line.
Ten years ago passengers were enduring a poor service, on old, slam-door “Thumper” trains running from a station building that was little more than a hut.
The first stage in the renaissance was when Southern introduced new rolling stock to the line in December 2004 with services going direct to London Bridge.
At that time 110,000 journeys were made annually. The new service saw journeys from Uckfield grow rapidly and the latest figures for 2008/09 weigh in at 335,000 – a 179 per cent increase in five years.
The new station, which was funded as part of the Department for Transport’s National Station Improvement Programme, has been in use since the beginning of the month.
There is more seating for passengers, more space to park bicycles and more shelters along the platform.
A coffee shop is due to open in the next couple of months.
Guests at the opening ceremony included Wealden MP, Charles Hendry; Uckfield Town Mayor, Len Ashby; Southern Managing Director, Chris Burchell; and Network Rail Sussex Route Director, Fiona Taylor.
However, the honour of opening the new station building and cutting the ribbon went to station clerk, Jan Pratt, and long-standing passenger, Mary Fox, from Church Coombe.
Mrs Fox, 80, has been travelling from Uckfield for 75 years. As a child she lived near the station in a cottage which stood where the Caffyns garage is.