COMMUTERS at Emsworth railway station no longer have to stand out in the cold waiting for their train.
Platform two now boasts a cosy customer waiting lounge and family-run cafe, Carriages Cupcake and Coffee Shop.
“This was a community initiative,” said 51-year-old Garry Pascoe, who runs the cafe with wife Michelle, usually called Mich.
“It started with the new waiting room and customers were asked what they wanted. They requested a cafe so a business plan was put together by the Emsworth Residents Association and Southern Rail.”
The 165-year-old building has been completely transformed thanks to £300,000 of funding, with the vintage cafe, waiting lounge and toilet, and an accessible ramp to platform one.
Even the electricity had to be rewired – switching on the kettle would have plunged the platform into darkness.
The cafe was designed and built by Garry and Mich and everything in it has been recycled – from the shelves, which were a CD rack, to the suitcase trolley which now holds crisps and confectionery, to the counter – which Garry made from a door.
And Emsworth traders have given a helping hand – Dusty from the Railway Inn donated fridges in exchange for two televisions.
“The feedback from locals is amazing – they waited 40 years for these disused rooms to be opened. Everyone has been so supportive,” added Garry.
Carriages is opened every morning by former army warrant officer Garry, who then jumps on his train to London where he runs a security company.
Mich will run the cafe when she retires as chief petty officer and physical training instructor in the Royal Navy later this year after 27 years of service.
Garry surprised her at the opening ceremony by announcing she now owned the business, having previously thought Garry owned 51 per cent of it.
Kim Taylor, 33, is one of three staff members at Carriages. “The cafe is doing really well, and it’s lovely to be a part of it,” she said.
The team is now looking to set up a bicycle hire facility at the station, in partnership with the national park.
With Carriages also hosting a pop-up restaurant once a month, Emsworth looks set to have one of the liveliest railway stations on the south coast.