PARKING misery for commuters using Rowley Regis railway station will soon be over with the start of a £1 million car park extension.
Plans to double the size of the park and ride site were delayed for a year due to funding and planning issues.
But work has now started by Centro, the region’s transport authority, to add a further 360 spaces to the existing 382, which are often full before the end of morning rush hour.
A Centro spokesman said the extra spaces will also help combat congestion and carbon emissions by taking an estimated further 30,000 commuter car journeys off local roads each year.
Cllr Roger Horton, Centro's lead member for rail and Metro, said: "It’s fair to say that the free park and ride site at Rowley Regis, like those at many other stations, has become a victim of its own success and becomes full very quickly each day.
“But the convenience offered by park and ride can play a key role in attracting thousands of motorists to make the bulk of their daily commute by train. That’s why Centro has been investing so heavily in expanding such facilities in recent years.”
Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris, who had campaigned for the extension, said: “It is clearly great news for rail passengers that there will soon be more parking available at Rowley Regis station.
“But the extended car park will also be welcomed by the many local residents in Blackheath and Halesowen who suffer from having passengers’ cars abandoned along the street, blocking their drives, because of lack of capacity at the station.
“I have been working to get this sorted for the past six years and am delighted that an end is finally in sight.”
The extension will feature low energy lighting, electric vehicle charging points and CCTV cameras and help points linked to the Network Safety and Security Centre.
Meanwhile, £60 parking fines are being brought in following a spate of poor and selfish parking by commuters across the West Midlands.
It is hoped this will stop people parking on grass verges, pavements, double yellow lines or in disabled bays when the park and ride sites are full.
A Centro spokesman said on one occasion at Cradley Heath 170 cars were blocked in for three hours as a result of a line of vehicles parked outside the marked bays. On another, 80 correctly-parked vehicles were blocked in by just one car.
Similar problems have occurred at Rowley Regis.
The fines are being introduced in September and offenders will have 28 days to pay or see it double to £120, but will have the right to appeal.
Cllr Horton said the move was not a money-making measure and the proceeds will go towards the cost of the enforcement scheme.