Maidstone East railway station has been officially reopened after a £5.2 million upgrade.
The station was officially opened on Thursday, 2 December by the Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Fay Gooch, who was joined by representatives from Network Rail, Southeastern, Maidstone Borough Council, Kent County Council, and the main contractor Geoffrey Osborne Ltd.
The refurbishment has provided a bigger, more spacious entrance and concourse with a brand-new waiting room, café, and ticket office.
Flowers and shrubs have been planted on the forecourt to provide a landscaped, bright, and cheerful environment for passengers, and an attractive, modern, welcoming gateway to Maidstone town centre.
Also unveiled at the opening event was an impressive 3.5m by 2m high sculpture of ‘Iggy’ the iguanodon that features on Maidstone’s coat of arms. Iggy is a nod to 125 million-year-old dinosaur fossils that were discovered in the town in Victorian times.
Further work is now underway to increase parking and pedestrian access at the side of the station, including better lighting and CCTV, more accessible parking and drop-off spaces, along with improved connectivity to Maidstone Barracks station.
Fiona Taylor, route managing director for Network Rail’s Kent route, said: “The station upgrade is now complete and looks fantastic. I’m confident passengers will love the new-look Maidstone East – it’s something everyone can really be proud of.
“I’d like to thank our passengers and residents for their patience while the project has progressed through some very tough times and in a challenging working environment. We’re delighted the station is now fully open, providing an impressive welcome for regular rail users as well as visitors to the town.”
The Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Fay Gooch, said: “The station upgrade at Maidstone East has already made a huge difference to the town. It’s bright and airy which staff and passengers have wanted for some time. The facilities are all first class and the landscaped forecourt will look splendid next year when spring is in bloom.”
Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, David Brazier, added: “Maidstone is Kent’s county town, so it is gratifying to see the vibrant welcome visitors will receive now the station has been upgraded.
“I am pleased that new facilities have been installed, with the help of funding from Kent County Council, to make this part of town a more attractive and delightful place to be.”
Southeastern’s Passenger Services Director, David Wornham, said: “The train station is often at the heart of the community, and as part of our drive to win back customers, we want to make them as welcoming as possible.
“These improvements do just that, offering a much safer and more enjoyable travel experience.
“I’d like to say thank you to all the partners involved, including the station manager Caroline Wallis and her team, for looking after passengers during the work.”