Mayor agrees on need to improve shelter

The bus shelter at the Blenheim Railway Station gives visitors to Marlborough a bad first impression, agrees Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman.

Mr Sowman said he would ask council staff to come up with a proposal to address the lack of shelter at the railway station. When ready, it would be considered by the Marlborough District Council assets and services committee.

The Express reported in November the concerns of a Blenheim woman who was appalled when she and a group of visitors had to wait for a bus at the Blenheim Railway Station in the wind and rain without shelter.

Roz Bridges, a member of an international home-stay exchange programme called The Friendship Force of Marlborough, wrote to the mayor about the experience. There have been several other complaints about the situation in past years.

A wind break or an extension to the roof to provide shelter from the rain could be all that was needed, she said.

Mr Sowman said he was frustrated with the situation.

"It's something I've wanted to do for some time."

The council had been waiting to see who would lease the railway station building from KiwiRail, who owns the site, to see if they could come to an arrangement. But the building has remained empty since 2011.

Mr Sowman planned to meet KiwiRail to discuss the possibility of building a new shelter. If KiwiRail was not prepared to help fund a shelter, the council would research options, including a conceptual drawing of the building and how much it would cost.

"It is totally unsatisfactory. We need to do something now with some urgency," Mr Sowman said. "It's a very poor first impression."

It was especially frustrating after $160,000 had been spent on a bus shelter in Picton, when more people would use a new shelter in Blenheim, he said.

Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston said yesterday the shelter could definitely be improved.

"We are absolutely encouraging an improvement in facilities for travellers coming into and leaving Blenheim," she said. "A shelter from the elements would be fantastic."

Up to 24 buses used the railway station every day, she said.

Visitors had commented to Blenheim i-Site staff it was a shame the railway station building wasn't open as it would be ideal shelter while waiting for a bus or train, she said.

"Any plans by council and KiwiRail to work toward a more welcoming and sheltered environment for bus and rail customers will be a blessing as far as we are concerned"

The Marlborough Express