A NEW car park costing thousands of pounds could soon open next to a Test Valley train station in a bid to keep up with the growing number of commuters using the railway.

The project has cost "around £150,000" and will see the car park built by Romsey station, Station Approach.

The car park will be able to hold "13 cars" and has been backed by Great Western Railway (GWR), Hampshire County Council and Test Valley Borough Council.

Now a member from the community group who have lobbied to improve the town's station, Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership, has revealed the project should be completed on "March 31".

Member of Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership, Mark Miller, said: "We are delighted it is going ahead and the project is going to improve the facilities for the rail users, which will hopefully encourage more people to use Romsey railway station in the future.

"The project is being run by GWR which will hold 13 cars; quite a lot of improvements have been made to the station over the past ten years, which was our idea.

"The work started on the car park five weeks ago and over the last few years we have been clearing that area by the station, because we felt that it was not very conducive for people walking through it from Canal Path.

"It was also overgrown so we cut back the vegetation and said to Great Western if there was any money available why not create a car park for the rail users, because after we started clearing the area we noticed people were beginning to park in it for free and they were not using the railway."

The transport planner from Chandler's Ford added: "Great Western put in some of their own money for the project, they were matched with money from Hampshire County Council and Test Valley Borough Council approved the plans. "The work is going to be completed by Tuesday, March 31, and we have also managed to get an access path to the signal box as well as an access ramp onto platform one over the past ten years."

Romsey town centre manager, Mark Edgerley, said: "The car park will be on the right-hand side of Station Approach and it reflects the fact that the station has got busier and busier, so more people want to park there.

"It is great to see Great Western Railway have invested in the railway station and the volunteers at the Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership also do various things for the station, such as make sure all the litter bins are not overflowing."

Cllr Rob Humby, deputy leader of Hampshire County Council and executive member for Economy, Transport and Environment, said: “This is a Great Western Railway (GWR) project that the County Council is supporting by contributing around £150,000.

"This money is from developer contributions, held by the County Council for the purpose of improving and enhancing pedestrian access to the station and car park provision.

"We are keen to actively support our market towns across Hampshire. Schemes like this are designed to encourage more people to leave their cars at home, and use public transport, or cycle or walk when they can to their places of employment or education, contributing to improved air quality in the area.”

GWR has been contacted for comment.