Pier investment continues as work starts on pier head and new trains take shape
Southend Pier, which has welcomed 12,000 visitors since it reopened 12 April, is set for a new look and feel this summer, with £2.5m of capital investment starting on the pier head and the new pier trains set for a summer unveiling.
In November 2020, the council’s cabinet agreed to invest in improvements to Southend pier ahead of the 2021 visitor season. This will see works taking place on the Royal Pavilion, where sit down meals will be readily available with the addition of an improved kitchen, bar and serving area. Work has started on this and will be completed by the end of June. A brand new viewing platform, toilet block and additional wind breaks are also due for introduction this summer, following engagement with residents and visitors on what they want to see and do at the pier head.
The pier train replacement project will see the existing diesel trains, which have been in operation on the pier since 1986, replaced with new, eco-friendly trains, and will be designed in heritage green and cream following a public vote on the council’s social media pages. The lithium battery powered trains will feature a much-improved ride for visitors and have state of the art audio visual equipment to enhance visitors’ experience. They will also offer additional capacity, USB charging points and a hearing loop system and braille driver alert system.
The trains are set to be replaced by Severn Lamb. Unfortunately, following a delay due to the pandemic, the trains will not be launching in spring, but will still be in place ahead of the summer season.
Scott Dolling, director for culture and tourism, said: “These works follow years of continued and ongoing investment into the structure of the pier, work starting on the £3.25m project to replace the Pier trains, and also the continuation of impressive pier visitor numbers when we’ve been able to welcome visitors.
“The investment works will see exciting new additions to the Pier head which will be very welcome. Engagement with local residents and visitors reiterated the desire to improve the offering at the end of the pier, and so I am really pleased to see work begin on improving the town’s jewel in the crown.
“The two new battery powered trains are due to be introduced before the summer holidays. Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen delay due to the pandemic, these will not now be here in May but will be in service prior to the school summer holidays. Many manufacturers are experiencing delays in construction and our new trains also have been hit with this supply chain issue. However, we will be introducing the trains before the holiday season and everyone is excited to see this new part of the pier’s offer. The current trains will of course remain running until the new ones are ready to go.
“It’s been an incredibly challenging year for the hospitality sector, and we hope by improving the offering at the pier head, alongside the fantastic new trains, we will have a bumper summer of visitors to our town to help give the economy a real boost.”
Patrick Severn Lamb, managing director for Severn Lamb, said: “Within the first few months of the project we found ourselves in a never seen before global pandemic. Our team have worked very hard to minimise the impact, unfortunately as hard as we have tried a short delay has been unavoidable. Meanwhile we remain extremely excited about working with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council on delivering the new pier trains as soon as possible.”