Rail Industry Focus

01.11.12

A gateway to Leicester

Source: Rail Technology Magazine October/November 2012

The new-look Leicester Station got its official opening on October 1. RTM hears about the improvements from route enhancements manager Spencer Gibbens.

Leicester station is a much nicer environment for passengers after an intensive £6m refurbishment.

Work started in October last year to improve the station entrance with a new bright openplan concourse with shops, a refurbished ticket office, better signage and an information point, while the overbridge and platforms also got some much needed attention.

There are also newly refurbished toilets, better seating, refurbished waiting rooms and improved customer information boards.

Leicester City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, officially opened the upgraded station on October 1, and RTM talked to Network Rail route enhancements manager Spencer Gibbens, who said: “When we were down there for the opening ceremony, lots of people talked about how gloomy the station had looked: there was a build-up of grime and dirt in the porte cochere area, and pedestrians were sharing the same space with the taxis and the drop-off area, which made the environment fairly poor.

“The station entrance itself was all very congested; the booking office came out into it and there were coffee kiosks in the way, with a lot of signage that the previous train operators had put in place, which made it all look very cluttered.

“Freeing that space up has given it a bright and airy feel, and combining that with the renewals work we’ve done on the porte cochere, that’s brought a lot of light into the place. It’s got a completely different feel to it.

“Inside, the booking office has been set back into its original place and again that’s opened that area up, so it’s got a much brighter and airier feel. Throughput for the passengers is much easier and it’s a much more pleasant environment to be in.”

The principal contractor was May Gurney. Gibbens said: “The project management was relatively arms length and there was a degree of technical specification, principally output specification, and they worked well.

“One of the key things we were trying to achieve was to make sure the renewals work, the enhancements work and the East Midlands Trains work were all tied up at the same time, for value for money purposes but also to minimise the disruption to the passengers: twofold benefits.”

Gibbens said passengers were understandably “quite grumpy” during the improvement works, but anecdotal comments so far suggest that people are very happy with the upgrade.

The East Midlands Trains work to the footbridge looks “fabulous”, Gibbens said. But some work was still left to do when RTM spoke to him – refurbishing the stairs to tidy up the treads.

The revamp was funded jointly by Network Rail, the Department for Transport’s National Stations Improvement Project (NSIP) and East Midlands Trains.

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‘An ambitious refurbishment’

Martin Frobisher, Network Rail route managing director for the East Midlands, said: “Leicester station is the gateway to the city. The station now looks and feels like a modern station and has radically improved the customer experience.”

David Horne, managing director at East Midlands Trains, said: “The completion of the improvement scheme at Leicester will deliver some real benefits for our passengers. We’re very pleased to have played our part in such a successful station redevelopment scheme and are certain that travellers will enjoy using the new-look Leicester station.

“We’re in the process of investing around £10m to improve the stations on our network, and as such an important transport hub, it’s vital that Leicester offers a fitting gateway to the city. We would like to thank our passengers, staff and our partners for their support in this improvement scheme.”

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, said: “Leicester Station is a fantastic building. This ambitious refurbishment has created a truly welcoming and attractive gateway into our city. I want to congratulate Network Rail and East Midlands Trains on this successful and sensitive redevelopment.” 

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