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UK should ‘look abroad’ for station advancements

The UK should take the lead from other countries on maximising the benefits of railway stations, argues a new report released today.

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) has used the study to highlight the versatility of areas surrounding stations.

It looked at case studies from locations in other countries, such as Almere in the Netherlands and the Cornavin-Eaux-Vives-Annemasse (CEVA) rail link in Geneva, Switzerland, where planners have maximised the potential of transport hubs.

‘Development around stations: Exploring international experience and lessons for the UK’ was presented at the Conservative Party Conference earlier this month, specifically noting traffic and multi-purpose systems which could be influential in Britain.

Chief executive of CBT, Stephen Joseph, said: “This report brings together experience from lots of different countries and shows there is an international consensus that the future lies in creating attractive, multi-purpose and largely car-free spaces around stations which can provide economic and social benefits to the local area.

“The report does highlight some good practice in the UK, but there are many lessons that national and local/devolved governments here can learn from the examples explored in this report.”

On a similar note, the organisation has previously stressed the importance of rail in reducing road congestion for both individual and commercial travel.

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Geoff Kerr   18/10/2017 at 19:28

For a start, European stations (well, none that I have visited) have ticket gates or barriers. They are "open", as ours used to be. That means that, not only are stations welcoming and easy to navigate, but also that they don't have the problem of retail outlets being "inside" or "outside", or having to be duplicated. I know that DfT will cry "fare evasion" but ticket checks on the train are the norm abroad. Gates, after all, only protect the minimum fare.

Andrew Gwilt   19/10/2017 at 01:20

And why should the UK should ‘look abroad’ for station advancements. Suppose it might work in some cases.

Graham Nalty   19/10/2017 at 09:07

Everyone can learn from looking at how other countries make their stations places that give a quality experience. We do have excellent examples in the UK, but we have some really silly blunders like not being able to go between east side platforms in New Street without going through two sets of ticket barriers.

Noam   19/10/2017 at 10:39

There is much we can learn from the continent about the station and surrounding environments. Stations like Marseille St-Charles seem to have bright, open, welcoming spaces, and plenty of shops without the obstructive retail clutter of our stations.

SPT   19/10/2017 at 13:09

Think we need to get station ownership and leasing structures right first along with DfT and ORR approvals to any changes before we can realistically plan for serious, sensible station development that can make a significant difference to our villages towns and cities. Even with 99 year FRI leases, third party developers will struggle financially to make developments on stations work - they need at least 125 year leases or the freehold of parts of a station. Added to this is the need for a "can do" and "want to do" attitude from Network Rail which is severely lacking... as ever.. Anything else (like the structure we have now) is just tinkering around the edge to game NPS scores and customer satisfaction for train operators - and doesn't deliver the substantial benefits that can be had from comprehensive redevelopments of and in and around stations

Nigel Fromage   19/10/2017 at 22:12

Hmm I get the feeling andrew is a staunch UKIPer.

100Andthirty   20/10/2017 at 12:26

I visited Antwerp last year. A magnificent redevelopment (terminal station with through tracks driven beneath). The magnificence was the preservation of the historic old building and the civil engineering under the station. It also had a shopping arcade. It was in the wrong place for passing trade and was dying on its feet. Compare that with Euston, Kings Cross, St Pancras, Waterloo, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow. Network Rail is quite good at developing retail in stations - mostly food outlets admittedly - but successful retail.

Geoff Mann   22/10/2017 at 12:52

You can go between east side platforms at New Street without going through two sets of barriers. You can use the west side platform escalators or extreme end navigation street bridge. I will admit the signage could be improved to indicate this. To add that the new development at New Street is an engineering miracle and a monumental improvement to the old station.

Jerry Alderson   22/10/2017 at 20:39

Railfuture did a study on international best practice, looking at stations around the world, although main inly in Europe. One of the things that our European neighbours do so much better is resilience. In Vienna for example, at most stations there are exits at both ends of the station, and often both have lifts i.e. independent lifts, so that if one is taken out of server there is still a lift at the other end. Compare that to the ridiculous situation at the brand new £50M (substandard - how bad would it be if they only spent £30M?) Cambridge North station where the entire station access is reliant upon a single lift for people who cannot use the stairs. And yes, the has been a time when the brand new has been out of action. And then there is the ridiculous lack of canopies where some trains are deliberately (not inadvertently) stopped at a position where there are no canopies. Canopies are considered a vital part of the station in some other countries.

Andrew Gwilt   25/10/2017 at 03:36

Nigel Fromage. Yes I do support UKIP.

Nigel (You Know Which Nigel)   25/10/2017 at 06:51

Didn’t even need to ask. I’m sure I’ve seen a comment somewhere about “foreigners”.

Jimbo   25/10/2017 at 10:31

The problem with UK stations is not a lack of ideas on how to improve them, but the money to do the work. If you look at stations that have been recently modernised (Reading, Abbey Wood etc.) these are vast improvements on what was there before but required lots of money. Cherry picking a few really good stations abroad and comparing to the average station in the UK is disingenuous - the best stations in the UK are as good as the best stations abroad, but the average station abroad is as bad as the average station in the UK. There are lessons to be learnt from other railways (how to electrify cost effectively for example), but I would suggest that there are few lessons to be learnt from stations.

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