York Station could get two extra platforms as the number of rail passengers visiting the city is expected to triple in the next 15 years.
About ten million passengers use the station each year – but this number is due to increase dramatically, councillors have been told.
To cope with the increase, two new platforms may be built.
Richard Bates, lead planner for Network Rail, said: “The creation of up to two additional platforms, alongside other planned improvements around York railway station, is a longer term option to make sure that the railway meets future needs.
“We’re always looking at ways we can improve the railway for passengers, and long term planning plays a key part in this.
“The railway is hugely important to York’s economy, as well as to the wider area, and making sure we continue to support this is a key focus for the rail industry.”
There were no details on how and where the new platforms could be built.
Crucial for the city
Two huge redevelopment schemes focus on the area surrounding the station – the council’s scheme to demolish Queen Street Bridge and revamp the station front and the York Central project at the rear.
The railways bring 6,500 jobs to the city and is a key part of the council’s economic plan.
Neil Ferris, director of economy at the council, told councillors the increase in passengers is crucial not just for railway jobs but for the city’s tourism industry.
He said: “It’s one of the key target industries for the economic strategy in terms of opportunities for the city to grow our visitor economy, retail and our status globally.
“They’re forecasting significant increases in the footfall and usage of York station and there are actually plans proposed under the Northern Powerhouse Rail and under HS2 for an additional two platforms at York, so the numbers using York station will go up dramatically.”
HS2 services are planned to run direct between York Station and the East Midlands Hub due to be built at Toton, on the Leeds branch of the high speed rail line.
A 636-space multi storey car park is included in City of York Council plans to upgrade the front of the station – replacing the number of parking spaces lost on site as a result of the scheme.
Question over parking
Cllr Claire Douglas questioned the amount of parking, saying: “Does this fit within our carbon zero by 2030 commitment?
“Is this ambitious enough? Should we be thinking bigger in terms of climate and transport and how this is an opportunity to make a lifelong change for York?”
But Mr Ferris said if parking levels remain the same, but visitor numbers triple, it means a lower proportion of people parking at the station.
And he said the council is dependent on some Network Rail land to develop the scheme – but the rail operator requested parking levels remain the same as a condition of allowing the local authority to use the land.
The new multi storey car park, which was originally part of the council scheme, will now be developed and paid for by Network Rail.
Senior councillors approved plans for work to start on diverting water, gas and telephone lines under roads around the site at an executive meeting on Thursday.