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Importance of stations ‘undervalued’ in local economy

Improved links between railway stations and town centres could encourage passengers to stay longer, spend more, and visit again, new research suggests.

Campaign for Better Transport has published a report with explores the potential of using ‘Fixing the Link’ methodology in the UK to make the routes between stations and town centres more welcoming, and boosting the economy.

The approach was developed by Dutch train operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) and brought to the UK by European subsidiary Abellio. Pilot schemes have been launched in Ely, Ipswich and Colchester, along the Greater Anglia route.

Fixing the Link assesses the accessibility of these walking routes with four criteria: liveliness, human scale, legibility, and safety and comfort. The methodology helps to identify and prioritise interventions to improve these areas.

The report examined these schemes and has recommended better planning for the areas around stations, as well as for LEPs to recognise the importance of stations in local growth. Rail franchises should also implement measures to improve the areas around stations, Campaign for Better Transport suggested.

Chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “In the past, the importance of stations as gateways to the towns they serve has been undervalued by both the rail industry and local authorities. This report tries to put that right using the Dutch methodology, but with recommendations adapted to the UK system.

“There is still a tendency to focus new development around the car, but this report shows that access to towns by rail is just as important and that it’s the quality of the pedestrian environment that matters.”

Jeff Hoogesteger, chief executive of Abellio, said: “The challenge we face as an industry is to ensure that we understand the changing expectations of society, and that we continually explore opportunities to innovate and deliver on those expectations.

“This publication introduces Fixing the Link which, I believe, achieves just that by enhancing the contribution that train companies can make to the economic prosperity of local town centres and high streets. I already anticipate it becoming a core planning tool for Abellio’s businesses.”

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Image c. Joshua Brown under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence


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