A neglected rail station is set to be revamped with improved car parking facilities and bus interchanges in a bid to encourage greater use by passengers.

Newhaven Town is used by 550 passengers a day, but it has been shunned by some of the local residents who find it easier to drive to Lewes where there is easier parking.

Some people are also put off walking to the station as it means crossing the main A259 coast road which cuts through Newhaven.

Plans are being drawn up for long and short term parking close to the station, a new taxi and cycle rank and improved pedestrian access and improved bus interchanges.

East Sussex County Council and Lewes District Council are both working on plans to make the area around the station more user friendly.

One of the proposals is to make better use of the area by the old Hoverspeed fast ferry terminal close to the station following Hoverspeed's decision to pull out of Newhaven.

The station has already been improved by rail company Southern with the booking office modernised and the Newhaven Port station half a mile up the line is now being used again as the main stop for passengers using the Transmanche ferries.

The ticket machine at Newhaven Port station is one of the few in the country that takes Euros.

There is talk of improved refreshment facilities at both stations.

Mark Valleley, Transport Strategy officer for East Sussex County Council said: "We are having a look at what we can achieve, especially the area next to Newhaven Town station, where we can improve parking facilities.

"People who live in Newhaven have been driving to Lewes because they can park in the station car park easier. We need to encourage more people to use their local rail station.

"There is also the question of improved pedestrian access. We need to improve access to the station from the town centre, possibly making it easier to cross the road by the level crossing."

One of the proposals being looked at is to introduce a long term car park on the other side of the flyover at Newhaven with a walkway to the station.

Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, who has long campaigned for improvements to the station and this week welcomed the progress.

He said: "Newhaven deserves a proper railway station, with good access, adequate parking and a little cafe. Seaford and Lewes have that. Why can't Newhaven?

"It was extremely stupid of the then British Rail Residuary Body to sell off what was then the station car park for, I think, a paltry £12,000 some years back, something I bitterly opposed at the time when I was the leader of Lewes District Council.

"We now have an opportunity to rectify that error. I also think the opportunity this scheme affords should be used to look at a possible long-stay car park north of the present station on derelict railway land.

"It is important, however, the good progress being made here is carried out within an overall framework for the guture development of the port and the railway stations."