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Transport investment must be ‘fairly weighted towards small stations’

Investment in transport infrastructure and passenger experience in London needs to be spread more evenly across the system and focus on small stations as well as medium and large ones, a new report has argued.

In the study, published by consumer champion London TravelWatch – about which the organisation wrote for the latest issue of RTM – TOCs were told more needed to be done to recognise the contribution of small stations to the network in the capital, as quality varied too much between the 183 stations within this category.

The report also stated that current systems for surveying customer satisfaction at smaller stations did not ensure their voices were listened to or acted upon consistently.

Basic standards should be set specifically to passenger needs at small station, the watchdog said, adding that increased staff presence from better funding could significantly contribute to passengers feeling safer and happier whilst travelling.

The report made a number of recommendations for TOCs. Companies should adopt specific guidance on standards at small stations, for example, and should work collaboratively with other TOCs to do this more effectively.

The organisation also argued that basic facilities should be improved at smaller stations, on top of the implementation of consistent standards and monitoring regimes at all stations.

“‘Small’ is only relative in the transport world. Any station with less than one million passengers a year is classed by London TravelWatch as small – the London Railway Area has 183 stations in this category, and passengers make almost 100 million journeys a year to and from them – nearly twice the number using London Bridge and nearly three times the number using Paddington,” the report stated.

“Yet these stations are more likely to suffer neglect than larger ones, despite their importance, as they rarely hit the headlines, some serving isolated communities with little other travel choices and sometimes they are just ‘small’ because they aren’t as good as they could be.”

London TravelWatch’s chair, Stephen Locke, explained that small stations often receive less investment than larger stations and are not necessarily eligible for funding programmes. 

“The quality of the passenger experience can vary quite significantly as small stations are not subject to a set of minimum standards,” he continued. “Resource constraints also mean that small stations are often left out of passenger satisfaction surveys – this reduces the incentive on train companies to improve passenger facilities at these stations.

“Our report shows that station operators could gain quick wins and raise satisfaction levels with relatively simple improvements such as regular and frequent cleaning, providing secure cycle storage and increasing the availability of clear and consistent travel information and signage.”

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Graham Nalty   25/07/2017 at 18:17

Very sensible, but could this involve local people more and could this apply to the whole rail network and not just London

Tothehills   26/07/2017 at 09:29

Yawn, yet more for London. Nice to know that London get 10 times the investment on Railways as we do in the West, and the Northerners feel hard done by (they get approx a third the investment London gets)!

Paul   26/07/2017 at 10:00

It's a report by London Travelwatch. It focuses on London because that's what London Travelwatch does. The clue is in the name.

Jerry Alderson   26/07/2017 at 18:15

The point that Tothehills omits to mention is that 70% of all rail journeys in Britain start or finish in London. If you include those that cross London, then the number of rail journeys involving London is even higher. Of course, this proportion shouldn't be the case, but you can understand why London seems to automatically get more money when London's railways are so highly used and remain overcrowded (as do other major cities, of course).

Tothehills   27/07/2017 at 09:56

Yes I appreciate that 70% of rail journeys start and end in London, the implication being that we in the rest of the country have to use buses and private vehicles to get round. So what does HMG do, oh invest in putting power points for electric cars in London. Question at what point will the rest of the country grind to a halt after HMG has banned Petrol and Diesel powered vehicles! Actually I could agree to the massive over investment in public transport in London it if ownership of all private diesel and Petrol vehicles was banned within the M25 That would make environmental sense.

Lutz   28/07/2017 at 01:27

@Tothehills Engage with the real-world. Railways, even light rail is not a suitable solution to travel requirements in most parts of the provinces. Even where rail services exist in said provinces many of them have to be heavily subsidised to remain viable. Only 8% of all journeys in the UK are made by rail, with more than 70% of the national rail and twice as much again on TfL services flowing into and through Greater London. Roads are the a more viable solution for most of the the provinces where there are much lower population densities, but there again, 10% of road traffic on the UK's trunk roads passes through a short section of the M25. So don't fall for these political activists making ridiculous claims on statics without context.

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