Work has begun to enhance the Alton railway station forecourt and create a more welcoming, attractive and accessible gateway to the town with easier and safer access for cars, pedestrians and cyclists.

Improvements to the parking and drop-off area in Station Road are a joint project of East Hampshire District Council, Hampshire County Council, South Western Railway and Network Rail.

The jointly-funded £1.3 million scheme will provide new drop-off and waiting bays for cars and taxis, step-free access to the bus interchange, a new bus stop and shelter, cycle parking and storage, and improved signs for pedestrians and cyclists.

Money has come from community infrastructure levy and Section 106 developer contributions from Hampshire County Council and East Hampshire District Council, county council market towns funding, and South Western Railway’s customer and communities improvement fund.

Walker Construction started work in August and expects to finish in March 2023. The project was designed by Havant Borough Council’s civil engineering and landscape team.

Cllr Rob Mocatta, East Hampshire’s portfolio holder for climate change and place making, said: “This is a milestone for one of our key place-making projects. The improvements at the station forecourt will deliver a more welcoming gateway into Alton, support active travel and make the area more attractive to local businesses and visitors.

“Alton station is on an extremely popular train route and is well used by commuters, visitors and local residents. I am pleased to see this transformation work under way. Once completed it will improve access for all users, whether on foot, in a wheelchair or with a buggy, by car and of course cyclists.”

Cllr Edward Heron, the county council’s executive lead member for transport and environment strategy, said: “This is an excellent example of effective partnership working to deliver much-needed improvements in the centre of Alton which will benefit residents and visitors.”

Peter Williams, South Western Railway’s commercial director, said: “South Western Railway, through our customer and communities improvement fund, is delighted to be part of this ambitious project to make Alton station a more welcoming gateway to the town.”