Named and shamed: UK’s worst stations

Author: By Rosamond Hutt, Press Association

Manchester Victoria received the lowest satisfaction rating, followed by
Clapham Junction, in south London, and Crewe, in Cheshire, according to the
inspectors’ report, which calls on the Government to invest £50 million to
carry out urgent improvements.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, who witnessed the dilapidated state of some
stations when he toured the country by train last summer, is due to visit 10
of the worst performers today, beginning at Clapham Junction.

He said rail operators would be required to set basic minimum standards for
all stations in future.

The others in the worst station list were Barking, Stockport, Preston, Wigan
North Western, Liverpool Central, Warrington Bank Quay and Luton.

They were identified in a report by the Station Champions – Sir Peter Hall and
Chris Green.

Lord Adonis said: “While touring the rail network in April this year, I
was struck by the great variation in the passenger facilities at stations.
Train travel has improved a good deal in recent years, but more needs to be
done to improve conditions and services for passengers at stations.

“I want every station to be a good station – a hub of local community
life and somewhere that you wouldn’t mind spending time, with adequate
facilities.

“I support the report’s recommendations of minimum standards for stations
– classed by size – in terms of information, car and bike parking,
facilities and environment.

“I intend to make these minimum standards a requirement in future rail
franchise agreements with train operating companies.”

Sir Peter and Mr Green said: Stations cannot be seen in isolation – they are
part of the total journey experience.

“Stations are deeply entwined with their local community and effectively
act as the gateway to both town and railway. They leave passengers with
their lasting impressions of both. A dilapidated station is bad business for
both town and railway.

“The last decade has seen the rail industry focus successfully on
restoring reliability and investing in a record number of new trains. The
next decade should build on this foundation to deliver the total journey
experience – but to do this it will have to focus more on its stations.”

Anthony Smith, chief executive of rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus,
said: “Passengers standing on wind-swept platforms across Britain
should be able to find out if their train is coming or not. There are all
too many stations that do not have any real-time information and in the 21st
century this is outrageous.

“Today’s report highlights this issue, and supports our position that
real-time information should be standard, not a luxury.”

He went on: “Furthermore, passengers tell us that at larger stations
there needs to be available staff for advice and security.

“There should also be passenger satisfaction targets for stations in the
franchise deal that means train companies have to tackle station
cleanliness, lighting, provision of seating, removal of graffiti and
maintenance of lifts.”

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating
Companies, said: “Stations are the shopfront for the railways. This is
a comprehensive report which rightly highlights that, while passenger
satisfaction with stations has risen in recent years, much more needs to be
done to deliver a consistently good station experience.

“Train companies have been working with their industry partners to
prioritise local improvements, encourage third-party funding for projects
and improve the accessibility of stations. We want to see operators
encouraged to do more in two ways acknowledged in the report.”

He went on: “By allowing train companies to take on more responsibility
for station upgrades, we believe that operators, with their lower overheads
and more streamlined decision-making, could deliver improvements more
quickly and save over £250 million, which could be ploughed back into other
station improvements.

“The report also says that longer franchises would encourage train
companies to take a longer-term view on station modernisation, which we
support. Moving towards franchises which run for 15 years or more would
improve the chances of attracting more private funding to invest in better
stations.

“We look forward to working with others in following up the
recommendations in this report, particularly in how the franchising process
can be used to harness train companies’ innovation to deliver better
stations and in the proposed review within two months for further improving
the management of stations.”

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