Rail 2014 Consultation Analysis
7 Scottish stations
Q24 - How should we determine what rail stations are required and where, including whether a station should be closed?
- - Public demand/passenger use (often passenger use is affected by services provided)/notional demand
- - Do not close any stations
- - Opening new stations
7.1 This question provoked a large number of responses perhaps because there was a widely held fear amongst individuals and organisations that some stations were under the threat of closure. Many of these responses, particularly in relation to station closures, expressed strong opinions and pleas to keep stations in use.
7.2 The majority of responses to this question were objections to the perceived threat of closure of stations on the North Clyde Line which runs from Glasgow Queen Street to Anniesland via Maryhill.
7.3 A large number of these respondents would not like Kelvindale Station to close, a slightly smaller number noting they would not like Maryhill Station and Gilshochill to close.
7.4 In addition to the individual stations, a large number of respondents expressed concern about the future of the entire line, mostly in relation to the perceived threat to close more than one of the stations.
7.5 Outwith the North Clyde Line, a number of respondents were against closure of Nitshill, Mosspark, Airbles, Kennishead and Duke Street Stations.
7.6 A large number of respondents stated that no stations should be closed while other respondents emphasised that the priority should be opening new stations rather closing existing ones.
7.7 Respondents were asked about criteria for determining whether a station should be closed. The most frequent suggestion was public demand or passenger use. However, it was suggested that this should be potential demand as in some instances poor levels of service provision result in low passenger numbers.
7.8 A number of respondents suggested that station closure should only be considered following extensive consultation with the public and/or stakeholders.
7.9 Other criteria for determining appropriate station locations included:
- cost, financial analysis or assessment, and impact on the economy
- social responsibility and the needs of the community
- whether other suitable transport options are available for residents of the area.
7.10 A considerable number of respondents said that stations should only be closed as a last resort.
7.11 The consultation mentions that some stations are within one mile of another; a small number of respondents explicitly stated that this should not be considered as a reason for closing a station.
7.12 Examples were given of the use of the stations which are within on mile of another:
"St Mirren Football Club moved to our new stadium in January 2009 which is directly across the road from Paisley St James Station and therefore is advertised to both home and visiting supporters as the easiest way to travel to the new stadium. This has resulted in many football supporters having a direct link between Glasgow/Gourock and our football stadium. This has meant that from a Police and Security point of view it has helped with any flashpoints in the town centre with visiting supporters having the ability to walk just across the road and get the train to Glasgow mainly."
"We also have a conference venue within the stadium which many businesses use with many delegates coming from Glasgow via train rather than use their car. Walking from Paisley Gilmour Street would be less of an attractive option with it being a 15 minute walk away."
St Mirren FC
7.13 A number of respondents stated that rather than closing stations, rail halts or request stations could be used. These comments tended to relate to rural stations. It was also frequently suggested that this would require a relaxation in regulations and that standards could be lowered for new stations making them cheaper to construct and maintain.
"Some of the stations on the WHL are in very remote countryside, with little or no alternative transport. No closure proposal should be made until current usage, future potential, alternative transport, and the scope to reduce the station maintenance cost have been analysed."
Friends of the West Highland Line
7.14 A relatively large number of respondents suggested where new stations could be added to the network and a considerable number said that new stations should be located in areas with a large number of commuter travellers and areas of high population.
7.15 In addition to this, stakeholder organisations often voiced their support for the provision of additional stations, and supported the use of the various transport planning tools in existence.
"New stations should be considered where there is a positive business case for doing so, again having regard to wider objectives, and should not rely on a "no increase in the current quantum" approach. RTPs and Councils have identified a number of positive opportunities for new or re-opened stations. The franchisee should be required to work with Transport Scotland and Transport Authorities to maximise the economic and local potential of existing stations, including new station proposals which can demonstrate a positive business case."
Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland
"The economic and social viability of communities should be uppermost in making decisions about rail station development, closure or relocation. Proposals for new stations should be subject to comprehensive appraisal in compliance with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance, before they are considered for inclusion in Strategic and Local Development plans. Given SPT's strategic role in the development planning processes we would recommend that formal SPT support for new station proposals in Strathclyde should be a pre-requisite to them being passed to TS for further consideration."
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport
Organisational and individual responses
7.16 There were key differences in the nature of responses between individuals and organisations. Whilst individuals tended to focus on objections to specific station closures, organisations tended to provide focus on the wider implications of the question. Organisations, in particular Regional Transport Partnerships, were much more likely to suggest new stations, routes and services.
7.17 Organisations also thought that social responsibility and community needs should be used to determine station requirements.
7.18 A geographical analysis was undertaken of all the responses that included location information. Of significance was the large level of response from the SPT area, which made up 39% of all mappable responses to this question. Overwhelmingly, respondents wanted their local stations to remain open. Within the SPT area, 10 of the 11 local authorities generated relatively small levels of response to this question whilst Glasgow City (59%) provided the majority of responses.
7.19 Considering the largest targeted response related to the Anniesland - Queen Street Line, it is perhaps unsurprising to note that almost all of the responses to this theme originated within the SPT region. Likewise, SPT respondents generated almost half of all responses to key theme three - requesting that no stations should be closed. However it should be noted that there was a significant number of responses from the HITRANS region to this third key theme.
Q25 - What are the merits or issues that arise from a third party (such as a local authority or local business) being able to propose, promote and fund a station or service?
- - Useful/reasonable - third parties could play an important role (perhaps following a trial and with some funding support), as long as wider network issues are considered
- - Use SPT as a model and encourage RTPs or local authorities to be involved
- - Local businesses and property developers should be required to, or can, contribute to the costs of new stations
7.20 In general the majority of respondents who answered this question were in favour of the idea of third parties being able to propose, promote and fund a station or service. Most of the comments received related to new stations rather than new services.
7.21 Some thought that third parties could and should play an important role, whereas others thought it was worth trialling their involvement, perhaps with some financial assistance.
"New stations can be promoted or funded by third parties, but long term costs needs to be covered by the franchisee and infrastructure manager. Third parties should be able to fund trial services for a limited period. Evaluation of their impact should point towards their longer term, cost-neutral sustainability. Regional Transport Partnerships should have funds made available to trial experimental services."
7.22 A significant number thought that there should be more local authority or Regional Transport Partnership involvement as a third party. Approximately the same proportion thought that local businesses and property developers should be required, or choose, to contribute to the cost of stations.
7.23 Some said that the local community is best placed as a third party, as they are more familiar with local issues and this approach is most likely to lead to community engagement and 'buy-in'. Some said that local third parties are more likely to provide the sort of service the local community would like, particularly in rural areas.
"We very much welcome such initiatives as it seems to us that local agencies are often better placed to understand the need for and promote new stations. Indeed, planning policy should be such that any major new development is well served by public transport and a new railway station can be the hub of a public transport network. Private third party funding is to be encouraged. We believe that Regional Transport Partnerships are best placed to plan and co-ordinate public transport services in their areas and some funding should be allocated to them to allow a more local, less centralised approach to the provision of rail services."
7.24 Another benefit of third party involvement could ensure better value for money for the public purse and franchise operators.
7.25 Those in favour of involving third parties frequently warned that the following issues would have to be considered:
- integration into wider network
- clear definition of who is responsible for what and for how long
- impact on service performance, including journey times
- ensure high and consistent standards across the network, including safety
- a requirement for a relaxation of standards for stations and the bureaucracy involved in opening a new one
7.26 A small group suggested that there is no merit in involving third parties and that it should be the responsibility of the government or train operating companies. Some respondents stated that they feared it would lead to variations in service and/or they did not want to see further fragmentation of the rail industry.
7.27 Those against involving third parties often cited the above issues (bullet points) as reasons for their opinion, along with a suspicion that the costs involved would be too high for third parties to be interested, particularly due to the current economic climate.
"There are significant obstacles for local authorities and businesses proposing and promoting a station or service. SPT's experience in the past has shown that there are significant operational, safety and delivery aspects to be considered as well as very significant and complex regulatory regime under which such proposals have to adhere."
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT)
"In the financial climate it is unlikely that local authorities or businesses would be able to fund their stations or services"
Scottish Churches Rural Group
Organisational and individual responses
7.28 On two of the three key themes identified, both organisations and individuals agreed. However, on the final theme - contribution to costs by local businesses - there were noticeable differences. Community councils and local authorities were key groups who supported third parties playing an important role in station funding and promotion, with a number of passenger groups and economic and business groups suggesting that local businesses and property developers should contribute towards the costs of new stations.
7.29 Organisations thought that SPT should be used as a model to encourage RTPs or local authorities to be involved. Local government groups were particular advocates of this position. Individuals on the other hand were more inclined to believe that there would be no merit in the use of a third party and that responsibility should fall on the state and train operators, with less fragmentation.
Q26 - Should only one organisation be responsible for the management and maintenance of stations? If this was the franchisee, how should that responsibility be structured in terms of leasing, investment, and issues relating to residual capital value?
- - Only one organisation should be responsible
- - Responsibility of the franchisee/perhaps incentivised to invest in stations
- - Responsibility of same organisation that is responsible for maintaining lines and signalling (Network Rail)
7.30 The majority of respondents thought that only one organisation should be responsible for the management and maintenance of stations.
7.31 Most of them thought it should be the franchisee, primarily because they are the customer-facing organisation, although it was widely acknowledged that they may have to be incentivised to invest in improvements to station infrastructure.
"We agree that the franchisee, which has direct interface with the passenger, should be responsible for station management and maintenance, with the exception of Glasgow Central and Waverley where, due to the multiplicity of operators, Network Rail should continue to be responsible."
Scottish Association for Public Transport
7.32 Around half as many respondents thought that the organisation responsible for maintaining lines and signalling, Network Rail, should be responsible for stations. A small group stated that Network Rail should be responsible for a basic provision with franchisees enabled, and encouraged, to make improvements.
7.33 The next most common answer was that there should be some degree of local involvement in stations, for example the 'Adopt a Station' scheme.
"Further promotion of the successful Adopt a Station scheme would be supported. There is scope for more community involvement, but the management and operation of stations should continue to be the responsibility of the franchisee."
7.34 Some respondents thought that an independent, perhaps government umbrella organisation, should be responsible for the management and maintenance of stations while others suggested that this should be the responsibility of local authorities.
Organisational and individual responses
7.35 There was agreement between organisations and individuals on the three key themes for this question. Looking at the proportional difference between organisations and individuals, more individuals than organisations recommended one organisation should be responsible for the management and maintenance of stations. Local authorities were the largest single sub group of organisations who supported this key theme.
7.36 More organisations than individuals thought that the responsibility should be that of the franchisee, and that this responsibility should be incentivised thus ensuring investment in stations. Economic and business groups were the strongest advocates of this position.
Q27 - How can local communities be encouraged to support their local station?
- - Expansion of the 'Adopt a Station' scheme
- - Involve local support groups and rail user groups
- - Allow other activities to take place at station buildings (i.e. shops)/better use of buildings, setting up opportunities for business
7.37 In terms of communities being encouraged to support their local station, a large number of respondents noted the success of the 'Adopt a Station' scheme, often pointing out current examples within Scotland. They suggested that greater emphasis, marketing and perhaps funding, should be available to facilitate the roll-out of the scheme across the network.
7.38 Similarly, many responses advised on the involvement of Community Rail Partnerships or local support groups to help facilitate the involvement of the local community. Essentially a large proportion of respondents thought it was important to consult with the local community in some form in order to encourage support and ensure 'buy in'.
"Community rail partnerships (CRPs) and station adoption groups have been enormously successful in England and Wales. Many CRPs have achieved phenomenal levels of growth on their lines through community involvement and niche marketing... A station is the gateway to both the community and the railway and it's in the interests of both to provide a safe and pleasant environment for passengers. Station adoption also meets a number of social needs, bringing communities together and providing meaningful work for people with social or medical difficulties, those experiencing social isolation and retired people, to name but a few."
Association of Community Rail Partnerships
7.39 Related to both initial two key themes were suggestions that community groups could be allowed to provide maintenance and other services through flower planting spaces and painting which make the station more attractive. Relating to this however was the requirement that health and safety regulations should be relaxed (within reason) to facilitate the community being allowed to work in and around the station.
7.40 Organisations and the public alike both supported the provision of unused buildings and resources at stations to local businesses or community groups, therefore increasing footfall and use of the station. Cafés and kiosks were popular suggestions along with post office outlets. Other suggestions included a local space for communities, which advertised local events as well as local trades/services. Responses of this nature suggested that measures should be taken to turn stations into community hubs, and not to solely function as a railway station.
7.41 A number of respondents thought that community involvement was so important that it should be a criterion of the contract that franchise holders engage with local businesses and community groups and importantly, facilitate their help. Other responses suggested it would be reasonable to offer some level of financial start-up assistance to the community to provide services.
7.42 Whilst there were a great deal of suggestions as to encouraging community buy-in and support, some respondents did point out that community support and maintenance should not be a substitute for the expectations and services provided by the franchise holder.
7.43 Aside from responses suggesting ways to enable the community to be involved in the running and upkeep of the station, there was a definite theme emerging that the station would prosper if adequate rail services were provided which encouraged use of the railway. Respondents argued that lower train fares and provide more frequent or better services would be key to encouraging greater use of the railway and hence the station itself. Other complementary measures that were suggested included the need to provide adequate free or cheap parking at railway stations, and integrating local bus timetables with the rail timetables to ensure passengers can make connections. The message was that complementary measures themselves encourage the local population to use rail services, which will in itself support the station.
"By having train travel being almost the default choice for travel! Affordable train fares for services with sufficient seating capacity and operating on frequencies that meet the communities travel needs will be the best possible advert for supporting a local station."
"By making it easy to get to the station on good quality walking and cycling routes. By integration of bus and train timetables."
7.44 A number of respondents thought it would be advantageous to publicise the rail timetable locally, through adverts in the local media and potentially by leaflet drops for households, raising awareness of the services on offer.
7.45 A regularly cited suggestion was that stations should be staffed where possible. Staff assistance and personalisation was seen as an important aspect of customer service which encourages use of the railways.
Organisational and individual responses
7.46 A number of key differences were observed between the responses of individuals and organisations to this question. The most significant difference was that individuals tended to recommend elements which would improve or make the rail service more attractive, stating that this would facilitate more use and support for the local station. However, this was not one of the top three responses for individuals, who instead prioritised the need to lower rail fares. Other frequently cited responses from individuals followed a similar theme and included the following improvements:
- free parking
- quality improvements to rail services
- integration of rail timetables with the local bus network
7.47 Overall, the most common response from organisations was for proposals to further roll out the 'adopt a station' scheme. This theme appeared to be particularly important to Regional Transport Partnerships, and public sector organisations were overwhelmingly keen to foster links between communities and stations.
7.48 Community councils and tourism groups championed the use of Local Rail Support Groups. The British Transport Police supported this idea in addition to consulting with the local community at large.
7.49 Whilst more organisational responses were made up of the top three themes, a significantly higher proportion of organisations than individuals also noted that it was important to consult with the local community to ascertain what they believe is important, as they are the existing and potential passengers.
7.50 Of the responses received from equality groups to this question, all noted that it was important to involve the local community. Guide Dogs Scotland suggested that it would be important to recruit blind and partially sighted people within any consultation.
"It is important that blind and partially sighted people are included in the establishment of local groups. Much local information is in inaccessible formats and places and they end up being in advertently left out of consultation opportunities."
Guide Dogs Scotland
Q28 - What categories of station should be designated and what facilities should be available at each category of station?
- - Improved cycling accessibility and cycling facilities required
- - Toilets at stations
- - Agreement with options outlined in consultation document
7.51 Of those respondents who answered this question, a large number did not pass comment on station categories, instead detailing key facilities they thought should be present at stations.
7.52 Amongst those respondents that did, there was an element of support for the categories presented within the consultation document. However numerous respondents provided their own specific categories and opinions whilst others suggested following either current Network Rail or ATOC station grading guidelines. Local authorities and Regional Transport Partnerships provided information on the classifications they currently attribute to stations.
7.53 Other category suggestions included:
- sliding scale with numerous grades
- three point scale - major, moderate and minor stations
- manned v unmanned stations
- tourist v commuter stations
7.54 Whilst there was some support for categorisation, numerous respondents argued that there should be no rigid criteria as stations can and do fit into numerous categories. These respondents warned that attempting to 'shoehorn' a station into a category may not be the most appropriate solution.
"The idea of station categorisation is a good one and the means of that categorisation can be in accordance with the type of train service that each station caters for such a main line trains, suburban commuting trains, rural trains, etc. Sub categories can also be by the number of passengers using a given station on a daily basis."
"Creating arbitrary categories for 'level of facilities' at each station is a futile exercise, since each station must be assessed on the level of passenger throughflow and particularly those with longer waiting times eg interchange stations."
7.55 A number of the responses received from both members of the public and organisations commented on key facilities that should be provided across stations on the network. Suggestions included:
- stations which are accessible for disabled people
- toilet facilities
- cycle storage and access facilities including paths leading to the station
- real time information boards
- ticket purchasing facilities (particularly at unstaffed stations)
- sheltered, heated waiting areas
- safety and security features such as lighting and CCTV
7.56 Cycle access and storage facilities were the most common facilities mentioned in response to this question, with numerous respondents noting current poor provision at stations, and how encouraging cycling contributes to the Government's National Targets.
7.57 Another common theme which arose throughout the consultation was the requirement for stations to be staffed. Respondents pointed out that a staffed station provides both a security presence and a source of information for passengers. Some respondents noted that whilst stations should be staffed, they did not necessarily have to always carry the function of ticket sales, but staff could include information officers or someone manning a kiosk, for example to ensure toilets are in order.
7.58 The installation of ticket barriers at major stations appears to have produced a significant reaction. Some respondents suggested their removal. The majority, however, acknowledged their requirement and suggested that all stations should now be equipped with ticket machine facilities to allow passengers to purchase their tickets prior to travel and not get stopped at long barrier queues waiting to buy a ticket before exiting their destination station. Related to this, respondents suggested that ticket machines should be equipped to accept money in addition to credit and debit cards.
Organisational and individual responses
7.59 There are a number of issues which were more likely to be raised by organisations than individuals. The main issue being the requirement to provide better access for disabled users, including lifts and ramps to access platforms. Indeed this was the second highest response for organisations and was a key response theme for both equality groups and local authorities.
7.60 Cycling accessibility and facilities for cycles were strongly supported by tourism and leisure groups.
7.61 Organisations also provided a higher proportion of support for the following:
- improved lighting
- real time Information
- the notion that facilities should be dependant on station size and footfall
7.62 Differing from the overall results, a much smaller proportion of organisations noted the requirement for toilets. Individuals noted that stations should be staffed, even if the staff member does not sell tickets. This comment was not as frequent among responses from organisations.
7.63 Three equality groups responded in depth to this question with answers tailored to improving accessibility and facilities for blind and deaf rail users and those with mobility impairments. Suggested facilities included tactile paving to indicate where door entry points are located on station platforms and similarly a facility to allow disabled or partially sighted users to locate and use train door buttons. Improved Real Time Information and audio announcements were also important to these groups, as was the requirement for stations to be staffed, ensuring assistance is available when required.
"Stations do not fall easily into separate categories. Regardless of which categories they would be considered in, they should all strive to be fully accessible, including physical access to the building and the trains, as well as providing accessible information and assistance."
Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS)
"Accessibility should be one of the facilities provided at each category of station. As above, there should be a drive to meet relevant legislation within the specified deadlines."
National Federation of the Blind UK
7.64 A geographical analysis was undertaken of all the responses that included location information. In relation to responses submitted for this particular question, the HITRANS region appeared to provide fewer than expected responses. The considerable unity across the remaining RTPs, however, highlights that the actual facilities at stations are of particular interest to the public.
7.65 Almost 60% of respondents to theme one (the requirement to provide improved cycling facilities and accessibility), originated within the SEStran region, whilst the tactran region also provided a proportionately larger than expected response to this key theme. Respondents from the SPT region provided more than a quarter of all the responses suggesting that toilets should be provided at stations. In addition the SEStran area again provided a large proportion of responses supporting options presented within the consultation.