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Prefab rail stations given go-ahead

Network Rail is planning to build prefabricated commuter stations because it is quicker and cheaper than sprucing up existing ones.

The stations can be assembled in just 36 days. The network operator is targeting new commuter towns as well as existing rundown stops that cost too much money to maintain.

Richard Eccles, head of route planning at Network Rail, said: “We don’t know how much they’re going to cost yet. We’ve learnt a lot from the test build and we’ll be able to say how much they cost once we’ve built a few. Obviously we’re aiming for a sensible unit price.”

A new station at Eastfields in south-east London will be the first modular build in the programme. It is on track to be completed before the end of the year.

East Devon District Council has chosen the modular system for a proposed station at Cranbrook, near Axminster.

If planning permission is granted, the stop will serve a growing population in the new town, for which the council has drawn up plans to build 6,550 residential properties by 2026.

Greenhithe in Kent and Effingham Junction in Surrey are also to gain stations. Both are smaller rural stops serving fewer than 1 million passengers a year.

Mr Eccles added: “It’s about putting something brilliant in place at those stations we’re throwing money at and where we don’t see anything happening.”

Network Rail has completed a trial build of one of the prefabricated stations at an -industrial estate at Ringwood, near Southampton.

The stations will form part of Network’s Rail annual strategic business plan, due to be announced at the beginning of next month, as part of the network provider’s plans over the next 30 years.

Around £150 million has been allocated to station improvements with a further Ł370 million to be spent on step-free access for the entire network by 2015.

The Government is aiming to double network -capacity within 30 years.