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Fenland railway station celebrates official opening of free car park, amid record passenger numbers





Nearly two years after it was due to open Manea Station car park has finally been officially opened with all the pomp and circumstance of a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The free 112-space passenger car park was officially opened, as it was announced rail journeys from the station increased to over 21,000 a year for the first time.

The car park, designed to serve the station’s current demand and accommodate future growth, marks a key achievement in Fenland District Council’s Railway Station Masterplans scheme.

Ribbon-cutting celebration time: Getting ready to officially open Manea Station car park is Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough (centre), with local MP Steve Barclay; Cllr Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member for transport and chair of the Hereward Community Rail Partnership; Steve Emery, former parish councillor and Hereward Community Rail Partnership board member; Cllr Ben Bonos, chair of Manea Parish Council; Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs for Greater Anglia; and other partners, board members and representatives involved in bringing the project to fruition.
Ribbon-cutting celebration time: Getting ready to officially open Manea Station car park is Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough (centre), with local MP Steve Barclay; Cllr Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member for transport and chair of the Hereward Community Rail Partnership; Steve Emery, former parish councillor and Hereward Community Rail Partnership board member; Cllr Ben Bonos, chair of Manea Parish Council; Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs for Greater Anglia; and other partners, board members and representatives involved in bringing the project to fruition.

It actually opened to the public last summer and promptly made headlines nationally because only one car was seen using it in the first week. That opening was described at the time as “soft” to enable any glitches to be ironed out.

It was originally due to open in April 2022 but problems with essential equipment caused a lengthy delay.

But on Friday there was a gathering of council officials, councillors, railway representatives and both local MP Steve Barclay and Cambridgeshire’s Mayor Dr Nik Johnson were also present to mark the occasion.

Ribbon-cutting celebration time: Getting ready to officially open Manea Station car park is Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough (centre), with local MP Steve Barclay; Cllr Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member for transport and chair of the Hereward Community Rail Partnership; Steve Emery, former parish councillor and Hereward Community Rail Partnership board member; Cllr Ben Bonos, chair of Manea Parish Council; Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs for Greater Anglia; and other partners, board members and representatives involved in bringing the project to fruition.
Ribbon-cutting celebration time: Getting ready to officially open Manea Station car park is Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough (centre), with local MP Steve Barclay; Cllr Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member for transport and chair of the Hereward Community Rail Partnership; Steve Emery, former parish councillor and Hereward Community Rail Partnership board member; Cllr Ben Bonos, chair of Manea Parish Council; Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs for Greater Anglia; and other partners, board members and representatives involved in bringing the project to fruition.

Councillor Chris Seaton, the council’s cabinet member for transport and chair of the Hereward Community Rail Partnership, said: “The Manea Station car park is a testament to our commitment to providing top-notch facilities for our community and a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to enhance the region’s rail infrastructure.

“With record passenger numbers using the station, it is essential that we invest in infrastructure that not only meets current demands but also lays the foundation for a sustainable and efficient transportation network for years to come.”

The car park is part of a raft of improvements for Fenland stations being delivered through the council’s Railway Station Masterplans scheme, funded by £9.5 million from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Manea railway station car park has officially been opened amid news of increased passenger numbers.
Manea railway station car park has officially been opened amid news of increased passenger numbers.

Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, did the honours and cut a ribbon at the car park, which includes 100 parking spaces, disabled bays, a cycle shelter, CCTV and low-energy lighting.

He said: “This is a great example of what cooperative action between the Combined Authority and Fenland District Council can achieve – our investment in support of the Council’s masterplan makes it easier for Fenland’s residents to travel by train, which, as well as being far better for the environment, brings regional and national opportunities within reach.”

Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs for Greater Anglia, said: “We’re really pleased that the car park at Manea is now open, providing additional capacity to encourage more sustainable journeys on the rail network to/from Manea, using our comfortable and reliable new trains.

“Instead of having to drive to March, Ely or maybe even Peterborough, before catching the train, passengers can now make a more local trip to Manea and board the train there, thereby helping to reduce pollution and congestion.

“We would like to thank Fenland District Council and all the other partners involved in delivering this very positive project.”

Cllr Ben Bonos, chair of Manea Parish Council, added: “The new car park isn’t just a fantastic facility for the station but for the whole village and the surrounding area. It will be a huge benefit to everyone here in Manea, particularly younger people. Investments such as this which complement public transport in rural areas help to give them better access to employment, training, and other opportunities. Hopefully, the completion of the car park will also accelerate the introduction of increased rail services from Manea.”

During the opening ceremony, a time capsule put together by Manea residents was also buried to mark the completion of the scheme and a historic milestone for the village. The official opening of the car park comes on the heels of Manea Railway Station achieving record-breaking passenger numbers, underscoring the importance of investing in transportation infrastructure to meet the rising demand for rail services.

According to Office of Rail and Road (ORR) figures published in December, Manea Station use for April 2022 – March 2023 was above pre-Covid levels (18,834 passengers in 2019/20) at a record 21,038 passenger numbers.

Cllr Seaton added: “Manea Station car park is part of a long-term strategy to create demand for increased and improved rail services for Fenland and supports our ambitions for economic growth in the district through improved access to jobs, education and training, housing, and leisure.

“Now that the station boasts this crucial addition, the station is very much open to the wider area. People can park at Manea Station free of charge and travel easily to destinations near and far – not only Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough, but on to the wider country as many journeys from Manea are direct or only one change of train.”



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