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


Memorandum by the Strategic Rail Authority (WTC 75)

WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES

  The purpose of this paper is to assist the Committee in its inquiry into "Walking in Towns and Cities". It is hoped that the Committee will find this information useful in addressing the terms of reference for the inquiry. The SRA welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the inquiry, and recognises the important role that it must play in the development of an integrated transport network. Pedestrians will play a significant and increasing role in the future of the railway network, and the SRA believe that improving access to the railway is a core part of achieving a better integrated transport network.

IMPROVING ACCESS TO STATIONS

  1.  A significant number of existing railway users gain access to the railway by walking to and from the station. Growth in the number of railway journeys undertaken has equalled a third over five years. The Government's target is that there should be a further increase of 15 per cent in the number of passenger miles between 1997-98 and 2001-02. There are further targets for growth in the Government's Ten Year Plan based on our forecast of 50 per cent growth in passenger miles over this period. It is desirable for the pursuit of environmental and integrated transport objectives that as many as possible of the increased number of passengers walk to and from stations. A key element of the SRA's approach is, therefore, to improve access to stations and the railway for pedestrians.

  2.  The ability for car parking capacity at stations to continue to grow to meet both forecast and target demand will be subject to availability of land and may not be economically viable in many locations. Other policies may restrict the ability of car parking facility providers to increase provision, such as local planning consents, competing land uses, and it is unlikely that optimal returns will be generated by proportional increase in facilities to satisfy demand growth. Generating a disproportionate increase in the number of railway users obtaining access to the railway by walking (or other forms of integrated transport) is likely to become more pressing over time. The attainment of this will also help to limit the growth of road congestion.

  3.  There are two strands to the SRA's approach to improving pedestrian access to stations. Firstly, we are keen to improve the physical environment by ensuring good direct walking access to stations and eliminating or mitigating the impact of barriers to access where, for example, there is major road infrastructure between the station and the town centre (for example, at Doncaster and Newport (Gwent)). Secondly, we are keen to improve the security of access—by providing comfortable, well lit and easy to use pathways with appropriate security measures (such as CCTV) where appropriate.

  4.  The SRA fully appreciate that improved security and perception of security is central to increasing the quality and take-up of rail services. The Government requires us to promote the personal security of passengers travelling by rail. The franchise operators know well enough that, if passengers consider that they do not safeguard their personal security adequately, this will affect their ability to attract passengers to the railway and detract from their success as a business. There is therefore an incentive on franchise operators to address the issue of security at stations.

  5.  Operators have been working with the SRA, DETR and the British Transport Police, to deliver the Secure Stations Scheme, which was launched formally in April 1998. This will award accreditation to stations that reach specified standards in design and management, and demonstrate reductions in the crime level and in passengers' perception of crime. Meanwhile, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), which promotes network-wide projects, has published Passenger Security—a Code of Practice, which identifies best practice, and encourages operators to co-operate with other organisations to improve security in and around stations.

  6.  Through the franchise replacement process, we expect bidders to include improvements to station facilities in their bids. In particular, we are keen to see the following included:

    —  good information and signage;

    —  making interchange between rail services as easy as possible;

    —  security for passengers on the platform;

    —  secure, clean, well-lit waiting facilities, supervised where appropriate;

    —  clear information or "call for aid" points where assistance to passengers with disabilities is provided;

    —  public telephones provided at, or very near, stations included as part of the bids.

  7.  The SRA is keen to see partnerships developed between local authorities and train operators to create improved access to stations, because the great majority of improvements involve the local authority as the highway authority or as the planning authority. Further, much of the land involved in improving access is not railway land, and the SRA and train operators need to work in partnership with Railtrack and local authorities to develop this potential.

  8.  We are keen to encourage station facilities operators to provide the most appropriate access to stations. This may involve encouraging station facilities operators to open (re-open) station access points—many of which were closed or restricted to reduce the cost of staffed ticket barriers.

MEETING THE TEN YEAR PLAN TARGETS

  9.  The Government's Ten Year Plan was launched in July 2000, and included a £180 billion investment package to modernise the nation's transport infrastructure. The plan's expected returns include reduced road congestion, modern trains with better services and reduced fares, and a 50 per cent increase in passenger use of the railway. The 50 per cent increase in passenger use of the railway will double the level of rail use at the time of privatisation. The SRA has a major role to play in delivering the Government's targets, and the development of improved facilities for passengers is at the centre of the SRA approach.

DEVELOPMENT OF INTEGRATED TRANSPORT

  10.  The issue of developing an integrated transport system—including bus-rail links, secure bicycle storage facilities, and improved access to the railway for all, including pedestrians—provides an opportunity for the SRA to work with local authorities better to implement local integrated strategies from a strategic viewpoint.

  11.  A seminar on "The SRA and Integration" was organised by Transport 2000 in March 2000, and the development of the whole "door to door" journey experience was explored with many expert groups including the Pedestrian's Association, Sustrans, NS (Dutch Railways), DpTAC and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

  12.  Transport 2000 and the Pedestrian's Association have argued in favour of "gateways" in town and city centres as a step towards creating integrated transport. They advocate the provision of information points with real-time information and ticket retailing opportunities within the town or city centre, particularly where the link between the station and the town or city centre is not direct. They are keen that pedestrians should be able to obtain real-time information about their journeys at the start of their journey and in the town or city centre.

  13.  We are encouraging innovative thinking through the franchise replacement process. As part of their accepted proposals for the South Central franchise, GoVia will provide £200 million to be invested, across the duration of the franchise, with stations to be developed as community and retail centres, improved access for disabled passengers, provision of new car parking spaces, a fixed price taxi initiative (pre-bookable taxi service, at a standard rate per mile, to meet passengers at any station) introduction of CCTV and passenger help points across the network. They will also work with local authorities to develop quality partnerships on rail-bus integration. Further work is expected with local authorities to develop additional station opportunities, as part of the new franchise agreement. The SRA believe that station improvements will improve access to the railway and encourage greater usage by pedestrians.

  14.  To encourage the type of investment in the rail network to promote integrated transport at the local level, the Government has provided the SRA with additional funds aimed at supporting new investment proposals that produce significant wider benefits for both integration and modal shift. This is distributed through the Rail Passenger Partnership (RPP) scheme.

  15.  The fund is designed to support innovative local rail projects designed to attract people from cars. Improving pedestrian access to stations is part of its remit.

  16.  An example of the upgrade to stations that have been funded under the RPP scheme are improvements to stations on the Tamar Valley line—awarded £75,000 under the RPP fund. Four stations—Bere Ferrers, Bere Alston, Calstock and Gunnislake—will benefit from the upgrade. The upgrade will improve access for disabled people, safety and security, passenger information and access to rural communities.

  17.  The RPP scheme is a typical example of the form of partnership that the SRA is keen to develop to advance the improved access to stations. This type of funding provides a partnership between local authorities and other local stakeholders with the train operator and station facilities operator, and with the SRA. This encapsulates our preferred approach to the implementation of local integrated transport schemes.

SRA

January 2001


 
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