Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Railtrack (WTC 80)



  Railtrack owns and operates the rail infrastructure of Great Britain—the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, level crossings and stations. We own 2,500 stations, which are mainly leased to the train operating companies. Railtrack owns and operates 14 Major Stations. We recognise that walking is an essential part of most public transport journeys and that stations form natural hubs that can be developed as transport interchanges between transport modes.

  The DETR's Encouraging Walking: advice to local authorities sets out the need to make "sure that access to and within stations by pedestrians is as good as access by motor transport" (introduction), and that "organisations responsible for design and maintenance of stations should provide safe, convenient and well signposted access for all users, including disabled people" (section 3.18). Railtrack sets out below the actions we have taken to meet these objectives.


  Railtrack's 14 Major Stations: Birmingham New Street, Edinburgh Waverley, Gatwick Airport, Glasgow Central, Leeds City, London Bridge, London Charing Cross, London Euston, London King's Cross, London Liverpool Street, London Paddington, London Victoria, London Waterloo, Manchester Piccadilly are visited by 1,246,000 every day. Most visitors are passengers, some only use station services.

  Our Major Stations form the hub of an integrated transport network. Here we have a responsibility to ensure that all customers can access the station easily whether they arrive by car, bus, underground, metro, bike or on foot. In addition, if they are entering the station to begin the next phase of their journey we need to allow them to make this transition quickly and easily. Examples of this commitment in action in relation to walking can be seen at Waterloo and Glasgow Central where the introduction of new traffic management systems make stations easier to access by road whilst at the same time allowing customers on foot to enter the station more safely.

  Railtrack has developed a series of masterplans for Major Stations that have included provisions to improve ease of access for pedestrians. For example at London Bridge station one of the objectives of the masterplan is to facilitate access for all with the installation of lifts and escalators to all levels and with the main concourse at street level, to provide easier access to the station facilities for passengers and the local community. One way to calculate the benefit of these improvements is the "walk-time cost benefit". This looks at the most efficient use of space on a station concourse to maximise the flow of people. At Paddington these flows have been eased by the installation of four main departure boards, in place of one, which should disperse crowds on the concourse. Also at Paddington a lift has been installed between the station and underground station that will ease the access for disabled people. At Waterloo we have worked with Lambeth Council on a new roadway scheme that has made accessing the station safer, with the provision of more crossings and access to station entrances.


  As outlined in chapter 3 of Encouraging Walking, crime and the fear of crime makes people reluctant to walk, and although the perception of crime on the railway is much greater than the reality, we have introduced regular security patrols at Major Stations to reassure passengers and traders.

  In the past 12 months we have worked with the British Transport Police and local communities to improve the personal security of all station users. Under the DETR's Secure Stations scheme, and in-keeping with the recommendation in Encouraging Walking of stations being better designed and with better conditions—especially lighting—to help encourage people to walk and use public transport rather than drive (3.33), the Major Stations are assessed by the local crime prevention officer on four main areas: station design, station management, crime management and passenger perceptions of station security. 11 stations have already been accredited (Glasgow Central, Victoria, King's Cross, Charing Cross, Manchester Piccadilly and Liverpool Street, Euston, London Bridge, Waterloo, Paddington and Edinburgh Waverley). Our objective is to achieve secure station awards for all 14 major stations.

  Around 70 per cent of major injuries suffered by passengers happen at stations and it is essential for us to minimise the risks associated with the operation of such busy locations in which the public can move freely. The biggest problem is slips, trips and falls and we have introduced a series of measures aimed at tackling this. Passengers at our Major Stations are reminded never to run on the platform or down stairs or escalators and we have a hazard reporting system which Railtrack and Train Operator staff are urged to use.


  As outlined in chapter 3 of Encouraging Walking, simple tactical actions can make existing walking routes much better, the example given of providing clear signs. At our Major Stations we are introducing new signage to make it easier for customers to find their way around. The new signs have already been introduced at Paddington and Gatwick stations and will be introduced at Birmingham New Street, King's Cross, Liverpool Station, Victoria and Waterloo in due course. The remaining stations are being completed in line with their planned redevelopment work. In addition to signage, we are investing in new customer information screens to deliver train information more clearly, reliably and in more locations around the station. Paddington and Leeds have already seen new systems installed.


  For the visually impaired we are laying tactile platform edging and installing induction loops for the hard of hearing. For those customers who are less mobile we have purchased a fleet of electric buggies to assist the elderly, disabled or those with heavy luggage, these provide a valuable service for hundreds of customers every day. Last year, requests for this service rose by 12 per cent to 10,600 at Manchester Piccadilly alone. At Glasgow Central station customers can transfer from the station buggies to powered wheelchairs to do their shopping in the city centre.


Modern facilities at stations

  Railtrack has developed the concept of Modern Facilities at Stations to focus on the improvements in facilities needed at all stations. After consultation with train operators, funders, other stakeholders and the Regulator, all stations were allocated to one of six types according to its size and function. Five themes were set out: accessibility, comfort and convenience, integrated transport, information and communication and; safety and security.

  All stations on the network were then surveyed and the current level of facility logged along with forecast of what will be required to meet the aspirations of the industry for those stations. Modern Facilities at Stations assessments are driving the projected investment of £830 million in Major Stations over the next five years. We are committed to using this investment to provide social and environmental benefits within our stations and in the wider community.

Station Accessibility

  Railtrack has developed a strategy to make all stations fully accessible to disabled people, subject to funding.

  Making a station accessible includes a wide range of facilities including provision for disabled people to be dropped off by car, appropriate gradients on ramps, proper access to booking offices and waiting rooms, tactile marking on platforms, passenger operated lifts, and appropriate public information systems.

  The Regulator in his Final Determination, published in October 2000, decided that funding the programme of access improvements for the period 2001-06 would be through the "discretionary" capital available to Railtrack as a result of the overall Periodic Review conclusions. In effect, this means that train operators will lead the decision making on where and when investment takes place. We are now re-visiting our disability strategy and working with our rail industry partners to identify a way forward.


  Railtrack recognises that for the successful delivery of an integrated transport vision requires all responsible for transport planning and provision to work together to achieve this. Railtrack is working with SUSTRANS to improve access to stations for pedestrians and cyclists. We have been supporting the DETR "Better routes to stations" initiative and supported train operator tenants with this. Railtrack has played an active role in the development of Local Transport Plans. Our regional zones work with county councils, passenger transport authorities and unitary authorities on the development of partnership projects some of which include pedestrian benefits. For example at Hitchin station there have been forecourt and interchange improvements, these have included a safer route for pedestrian access, jointly funded with the local authority.


  Encouraging Walking suggests actions to provide the provision of high quality networks to "improve links between walking and other modes of transport within the network" and "make access to transport interchanges easy, safe, convenient and well signposted for all users, including disabled people" (page 24). Through our Major Stations, Modern Facilities at Stations initiative and secure station accreditation Railtrack has demonstrated that it is meeting these recommendations.

January 2001

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