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


Supplementary memorandum by the Strategic Rail Authority (WTC 75A)

WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES

1.  What examples are there of your organisation being actively involved (not simply as consultee) in the land use planning of areas within walking distance of stations?

  The Strategic Rail Authority is working actively with SUSTRANS, Railtrack, and the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions on the "Safe Routes to Stations" scheme. This initiative is in the process of identifying suitable sites to be improved for walking and cycling to stations and will involve the use of land the railway does not own or have a direct interest in. The SRA is part of the project management group overseeing implementation and we will be working closely with the relevant train operators on specific schemes.

(a) Are there examples of planning in such areas where the rail industry does not have a direct interest in the land?

  Sheffield Midland station and its approaches form a key part of the Masterplan for the development of the city centre. We are working with Railtrack, Midland Main Line, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, Sheffield City Council and Sheffield One on this project. Investment would include improved access for pedestrians between the station, the city centre, the bus station and Sheffield Supertram. The Masterplan approach means that the whole city centre environment is considered together, regardless of land ownership. The area covers a variety of land ownership, including the station, the railway administrative offices at Sheaf House, and other railway land. Apart from providing improved access to and from the station, the Masterplan will produce a better environment in the city centre, and particularly around the station.

  Another example is Reading, where we are working with Reading Borough Council on their plans for the re-development of that part of the town centre around the station. The need to expand capacity of the station and improve links with buses and with pedestrians routes to the town centre form part of the remit for this study.

(b) Would "station area plans" (as used in the USA) be in the rail industry's interests by generating additional patronage, as well as helping to meet the Government's sustainable development objectives?

  The SRA is working with local authority partners in developing a "masterplan" type approach as explained in answer to question (a) above. The primary development instrument for this type of activity is through the local transport plan, which every local authority with transport responsibilities is required to produce,

  GoVia's idea, for the South Central franchise, which was awarded last year, is to make their stations the local centre of the community with bus links, retailing and other facilities for passengers and local people.

(c) Will Rail Passenger Partnership funding be adequate to make a significant contribution to such a planning effort throughout the country?

  The SRA consider that RPP funding is the ideal mechanism for making these sorts of improvements work, providing they offer value for money. In some cases, it might be appropriate for the local authority to provide funding to supplement this where additional benefits (to them) are being sought. Total funding of £600 million was identified within the Ten Year Transport Plan. We have been encouraging actively local authorities and train operating companies to propose RPP schemes for evaluation.

  The Rail Passenger Partnership scheme is, however, just one of the initiatives that can be used to promote "walking" initiatives. For example, the franchise replacement process will encourage greater investment in delivering integrated transport strategies and improving access to stations, improving the station environment, and promoting more sustainable and innovative development in and around stations.

SRA

February 2001


 
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