Network Rail, the owners of the station car park, have clarified that the car park is private for the use of rail passengers, that the car park has a typical usage of less than 50% in a typical day (and less at weekends), and that they would be happy to permanently restrict car park use to rail passenger users, residents of the new flats and overnight hotel users.
"Whilst non-railway passengers may park their cars there currently, this is only possible because the spaces are under-utilized for exclusively rail passenger use. There is no commitment to non-rail passengers use of the car park and the operator may decide, at times, to restrict use of non-rail passengers parking, for instance in periods of high demand such as the Flower Show."
"We recognise that there are concerns about the amount of spaces being provided by the proposed redevelopment in the new car park. It may help with any perceived capacity issues if we agreed to permanently restrict car park use to rail passenger users, residents of the new flats and overnight hotel users, when it is empty of rail passenger users. This could be enforced as part of a car park management plan that would be deployed in the event that the local concerns about under provision are proven correct. Please note that from the extensive studies commissioned by the developer we do not believe this to be the case.
"The car parks are part of Network Rail’s infrastructure for the operation of the railway network. Network Rail is obliged to an ongoing programme of modernization to their infrastructure and to enhance passenger facilities which includes car parks and station access. Across all the entire network there is a requirement to seek funding for these improvements through commercial use of their assets which includes working with third parties.
"In the letter from ORR, dated 14 February 2017, it notes “Network Rail has stated that on weekdays it is approximately 60% full and used by railway users and non-railway users. At weekends, approximately 90% of capacity is used, mainly by non-railway passengers visiting Hampton Court”. However, at Hampton Court we have the benefit of detail survey data over at least five years provided by Waterman Infrastructure Ltd. These surveys show that the car park has a typical usage of less than 50% in a typical day, and less at weekends. The surveys are based on real counts and have shown a level of consistency that gives us confidence in their accuracy.
"The consultants in this instance, Waterman Infrastructure Ltd, are a respected transport consultancy who Network Rail use on many similar commissions and in this respect we are satisfied that the joint Network Rail/ Alexpo planning application is based on sound advice.
"We note that the surveys are similarly backed up by Google Earth images, which show the car park at less than 50% capacity. Whilst acknowledging there are counter references to Google Earth images showing a full car park, it is worth noting that these were taken on a bank holiday and on Easter Saturday, where it can be presumed that the majority of those parking were visitors to Hampton Court Palace and not rail-passengers."
The new development
Network Rail's letter comes after developers Alexpo and Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd released a graph showing that there will always be unused spaces in the car park on a typical day. At the afternoon peak, there will still be 47 unoccupied parking spaces in the car park.