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Passengers' frustration at 'weakest link' train stations

27 August 2007
Rail passengers cite buses that don’t connect with train times, insecure cycle parking and poorly-lit footpaths as barriers to using their local train stations.

These are the results found in the ‘Weakest Link’ [1] survey launched by Transport 2000 [2] to find the best and worst train stations to travel to in England and Wales.

The government has made steps in the right direction, with station ‘Access for All’ funding and a commitment in the Rail White Paper to introduce Station Travel Plans and a task force to improve cycle provisions at stations. Transport 2000 welcomes these decisions.

However, Tara Melton of Transport 2000 says: “Rail passengers need real travel choices. All stations should have good bus links, decent footpaths and secure cycle parking and must be accessible to all. What our survey shows is that this clearly is not the case for many rural and urban stations, leaving many people with no choice but to drive to the station”.

 

National Survey results

The results of the survey [3] throughout the UK and Wales found that:

 

  • Only 29% of respondents thought that bus timetables at their station were clear and accurate. Only 12% of respondents thought that the bus timetables generally connected with the train timetable.

Example: Sandal and Agbrigg Station in West Yorkshire. One respondent explained that bus services have been cut by 50% in the last year and the car park is full to capacity resulting in people driving to Wakefield Station instead.

 

 

 

  • A staggering 60% of respondents said that they would not feel safe leaving their bike at the station.

Example: Manor Park Station in London. One respondent reported that bicycles are regularly stolen.

 

 

 

  • Sixty-two percent of respondents said that there was not a safe cycle route to the station.

Example: Regular passengers of both Hitchin Station in Hertfordshire and Kemble Station near Cirencester raised unsafe cycle routes as dangerous obstacles to using the station.

 

 

 

  • Only 36% of respondents felt that the paths to their station were safe, well-lit and free of obstacles.

Example: Peckham Rye Station in London. All three entrances are poorly-lit and surrounded on each side by tall buildings, making many users feel vulnerable.

 

 

 

  • Sixty-one percent of respondents said that the town centre and nearby facilities were not well signposted from their station entrance/exit.

Example: Respondents highlighted Bristol and Newport; both of these stations are poorly-signposted and physically and psychologically disconnected from the main town.

 

 

 

Notes to editors

[1] The ‘Weakest Link’ survey respondents included a mixture of commuters and occasional users throughout England and Wales. Respondents were asked to comment on their personal experiences of their journey to local train stations, whether by foot, cycle, bus or wheelchair.

[2] Transport 2000 is an independent campaigning and research body that represents the key transport interests of around 40 environmental groups, transport organisations and transport unions. We bring together people who seek to reduce the environmental and social effects of transport through encouraging less use of cars, lorries and planes and more use of rail, buses, trams, cycling and walking.

We believe the following elements are important if stations are to become less car-dependent:

 

  • Clear signage from the town centre and roads showing where the station is (preferably with a map for pedestrians)
  • Clear signage outside the station, clearly indicating the presence of a railway station
  • Communication between local bus operators and rail companies with the aim of providing bus services that broadly meet the trains
  • Information about the bus timetable and train timetable in a clear and obvious location
  • Walking, buggy and wheelchair access to the station that is clear from clutter such as overgrown hedges, that is well-lit and feels safe at night, and with safe pedestrian crossing facilities
  • Cycling access to the station that is well-signposted and has a reduced speed limit of 30mph; ideally this should take the form of a dedicated cycle lane leading directly into the station
  • Cycle parking at the station that is secure, overlooked by staff and CCTV, and preferably covered
  • Taxi ranks that are clearly signed, or a list of taxi numbers in the station building with a working public phone

[3] 184 stations were nominated across the country; this is approximately 7% of all stations.