Southend Airport’s new £12million rail station has opened for business.

After repeated delays to the opening, the first train from Southend Victoria to Liverpool Street stopped at the station at 4.05am.

Tory MP Bob Neill, Government minister for communities, was due at the station to officially open it.

The new train station is on the National Express East Anglia line and, at peak times, take about 55 minutes to get passengers to Liverpool Street and 45 minutes to Stratford, the site of the 2012 London Olympics.

Airport managing director Alastair Welch said:“I believe that when the municipal airport opened 75 years ago, the mayor at the time remarked that it would be good to have a railway station there. We are pleased to finally realise that.

The station has been a long-held dream of airport bosses.

Planning permission for the station was actually obtained from Rochford District Council back in 1997 by previous owners.

But it was not until the airport was sold to the Stobart group, in 2008, that work was done to push forward the scheme.

The station has seen its opening date pushed back a number of times. It had initially been due to open in December 2009, then the summer of 2010, before the date was pushed back to this summer.

Construction began in late 2009 and most of the station was complete by the start of the year.

Trains have actually been stopping at the station since last month and Southend Airport included on the National Express timetable since May, but passengers were unable to get off.

Stobart, not National Express, will employ the staff who man the station and meet passengers getting off the train.

Mr Welch added: “We will operate the station ourselves, primarily because we can ensure a very high standard of customer service from the first point at which passengers arrive at the airport until they get on the aircraft. Staff will be there all day, meeting people getting off the aircraft.”

Charging for all the airport’s car parks will be gradually introduced over the coming months.

From today, the station car park will start charging £1 for up to half an hour parking, £2 for an hour and £4 for two hours.

There will be a £6 day rate and a £35 weekly rate but there will be no charge for those parking for less than ten minutes.