The rail industry must look beyond “the tracks and the trains” and invest in stations to make them attractive, easy to use, clean and safe, and integrated with other modes of transport.
Andrew McNaughton, professorial fellow at the University of Southampton, told RAIL’s National Rail Recovery Conference: “It’s incredibly important that we consider our stations before we consider anything else.”
“They are our front door and our exit. If we don’t get that right, I don’t think the rest matters very much.”
McNaughton (pictured) said he was “absolutely obsessed” with the Swiss transport system - as it is not simply a rail system, it is an integrated with other modes of transport.
He said the Swiss have taken away “high-maintenance, difficult and inappropriate infrastructure” and replaced them with “simple, sleek, low-cost stations” that are weather-proof, have essential areas for storage, and have CCTV.
Increasingly, the Swiss are building low-cost, small convenience stores at their stations. “This brings a new focus back to the station for the community at large and makes the station the heart of the community again,” McNaughton said.
“That just reminds people when they go for their convenience shopping that there is a train service. There is the connection to the big city that is an alternative to road transport.”
- Full coverage of the National Rail Recovery Conference will appear in RAIL 926, on sale digitally March 6 and in print on March 10. You can still register to watch any of the NRRC sessions on-demand within the next three months, by going to www.nationalrailconference.com