In 2013 we undertook some reserach, funded by Abellio, about the importance of good walking routes from stations to town centres and how they could be improved using the 'Fixing the Link' methodology pioneered by Dutch Railways.
The Fixing the Link methodolgy assesses the route between a station and town centre on the basis of four criteria:
- Liveliness: A lively scene is one with people on the street, attracted by a variety of uses and places to sit down and watch
- Human scale: A physical setting that matches human scale and walking speed
- Legibiliy: The ease with which people can orientate themselves and see the route into town
- Safety & comfort: Pedestrians must have priority and the route should feel safe, protected from traffic, well maintained and overseen
Three towns in England (Colchester, Ely and Ipswich) were scored using these criteria and compared to similar towns in the Netherlands. The Dutch cities scored much better across the board, with English railway stations being generally located much further outside town centres and pedestrians having a low priority compared to other traffic. Our research identifies some of the causes of the low scores and makes suggestions for how things could be improved.
The Fixing the Link methodology provides a useful template that any local authority could use to identify issues that might stop people walking from the railway station to the town centre. We think it should be embedded in local and national transport policy to help put promote walking to all town centres throughout the country.
Update: our research is being put into practice
In Colchester, our Fixing the Link report has led to major improvements in the walking route between the station and the town centre. We went to Colchester to see the changes.