THE proposed overhaul of Weymouth railway station has been slammed as a 'missed opportunity' for public transport as it emerged that only two bus services will call at the revamped station - despite significant changes being proposed to the road layout.

The station gateway scheme is a joint project between Dorset Council and South Western Railway to improve access and make the area more inviting.

But town councillors have criticised First Wessex for a 'lack of support'. The bus operator has so far confirmed that only two bus services will stop at the forecourt: the X53 to Axminster, and the seasonal 502 to Littlesea holiday park.

Meanwhile, changes are proposed to create a separate exit route for public transport and taxis onto Queen Street - re-routing the majority of traffic to enter and exit the station via King Street.

Dorset Echo: Under the new plans traffic will enter and exit via King Street near the Esso garageUnder the new plans traffic will enter and exit via King Street near the Esso garage

In response to questions at a Weymouth Town Council Planning meeting on Tuesday, Dorset Council representative Steven Booth explained that the highways authority has tried to negotiate with First Wessex to arrange for local buses to stop at the station, with the bus operator reportedly citing financial reasons for not agreeing to the changes.

First has instead proposed a new bus stop on King Street for the number one Portland service.

Dorset Echo: The Queen Street exit would be for public transport and taxis onlyThe Queen Street exit would be for public transport and taxis only

Councillor Christine James said she previously tried to negotiate for buses to stop at the station during discussions surrounding the 2012 Weymouth Transport Package.

"First Buses were reluctant then, especially with the number one service," she said.

"With all the issues surrounding climate change I find a bit hard to swallow that they are still using the excuse of costs of running to timetables."

Councillor Graham Winter added: "A trick has been missed here... why on Earth don't Dorset Council look at creating at a transport hub like the one in Bournemouth?"

Dorset Council's representative Mr Booth explained that the project is constrained by a budget of just £600,000, and lack of space, with land under the ownership of Network Rail.

Councillors also expressed disappointment that the station toilets will not be refurbished, and raised concerns about traffic coming in and out of the station next to the the Esso garage, an area of high pedestrian footfall.

Concerns were also raised about whether enough is being done to address the issue of anti-social behaviour at the station forecourt.

In response, Mr Booth said visibility is being improved at the junction, while it is hoped that problem behaviour and groups of drinkers will be discouraged by making the area more welcoming to the public, and that CCTV and lighting is also being improved.

He also revealed that South Western Railway is considering a phase two of the project which could involve changes to the station building.

The committee passed a majority advisory vote of no objection to the plans, but will submit a request that Dorset Council considers injecting more funding into the project and negotiates with First Wessex.

In response to the bus concerns First Wessex Operations Manager Carol Sim said: "We’ve have been working closely with our partners Dorset Council and South Western Railway to deliver improved travel links for the public by rerouting bus services into Weymouth railway station.

"We can already confirm that services X53 and 502 will call at the revamped forecourt and we are actively considering which other services stop at the forecourt. We also proposed a bus stop to be created on King Street for the benefit of customers of our Portland service 1, as diverting this service off the main road and into the station would have a detrimental impact on the service in terms of increased journey times and lower frequencies.”