London Blackfriars station has changed dramatically in recent years from a down-at-heel secondary terminal into an iconic, modern facility.
Its redevelopment was needed for the £6 billion Thameslink scheme, and National Rail Awards judges called its redevelopment “visionary”.
To accommodate brand new 12-car trains, the station now spans the River Thames and since 2011 there have been station entrances on both sides of the river, making it unique not only in London, but in Europe.
Judges commented on its spotlessly clean glass walls that exploit the unique views of not only the River Thames, but also the various London landmarks that surround the station.
Modern information systems offer extensive information on train services while helpful staff help to keep the station in pristine condition while also volunteering support to passengers. There are now ticket halls on both sides of the river.
Official Office of Rail and Road figures record that 10.468 million passengers used the station in 2016.
The station dates from 1886 when it was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway company as St Paul’s. It was renamed in 1937 as Blackfriars. Today, it is served by both Southeastern at peak-time and Govia Thameslink Railway throughout the day, with the latter managing the facility. There is a London Underground station as well.
The rebuild of the station began in 2009 and was completed in 2012. It involved closing the three bay platforms on the east side of the station and swapping them with the through lines on the western side of the station in order to improve operations. This saw the number of bays reduced to two which has been countered by the decision to turn some of the terminating services into through trains. This work used the disused piers on the western side of the existing railway bridge.
Indeed, such is the transformation at Blackfriars, the NRA judges say: “Blackfriars is well on its way to becoming the flagship station for the expanded Thameslink network.”
Highly commended - Glasgow Central, Network Rail
The high standards of service and cleanliness at Scotland’s busiest station (more than 30 million passengers used Glasgow Central in 2015/2016, up from 28.9m in 2014/2015) means that once again an old favourite of the National Rail Awards judges is Highly Commended.
Served mainly by ScotRail, other operators running to the station are Caledonian Sleeper, CrossCountry, TransPennine Express, Virgin Trains East Coast and Virgin Trains West Coast.
Judges state that both passenger and retail facilities remain
excellent and the station seems to become busier on each visit.
Offering excellent retail options in the heart of the city, Glasgow Central remains a key part of the busy Strathclyde railway system, with its high-level platforms served by trains to Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and England, and its low level platforms a key artery in the heart of the busiest commuter network outside London.
Highly commended - Manchester Piccadilly, Network Rail
Last year’s winner of this category, Manchester Piccadilly continues to impress National Rail Awards judges.
This bustling station retains outstanding retail and customer facilities according to the NRA judges.
Of particular note, they say, “are its extensive passenger information systems; its undercover interchanges to Manchester Metrolink, and taxis and its ease of access.”
Largely a terminus station, there are two through platforms at the facility. The station is served by Arriva Trains Wales, CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, Northern, TransPennine Express and Virgin Trains West Coast, judges said that Manchester Piccadilly sets high standards in creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Passenger numbers are increasing, with 25.7 million passengers using the facility in 2015/2016, up from 24.6m in 2014/2015.