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Railways: Stations

Volume 715: debated on Thursday 19 November 2009

Statement

In May 2009, I invited Sir Peter Hall, Professor of Planning at University College London, and Chris Green, formerly chief executive of Virgin Trains, to advise on ways to improve railway stations in England and Wales, focusing on getting the basic facilities right as well as considering the broader role of stations in the future.

Their report, which I have published, focuses on:

achieving an enhanced and consistent level of facilities at each type of station, so that passengers can find what they need and know what to expect;

a greater emphasis on end-to-end journeys, with more attention given to helping passengers get to and from the station by bus, bike or car; and

more effective integration of public transport into the planning of local communities.

These are all vital to the creation of a modern transport system which promotes individual choice and supports the national economy. The report complements existing government initiatives, such as the £14 million which I recently announced to improve the provision for cyclists at stations.

The champions have found that the largest stations, including the main termini, are generally up to the standards which passengers should expect. But there are stations in the next tier—the major interchanges—which fall below the required standard and are in urgent need of attention. The Government and Network Rail are committed to a rolling programme of improvements to major stations, and I have agreed with Network Rail that they will make up to £50 million available to enable an early start to be made on the 10 key stations highlighted in the report. My department will be working closely with Network Rail to decide on a programme of work, funded by them, developer and local contributions and through the franchising process. The investment will of course be subject to a satisfactory business case and the prospect of an adequate financial return. I am challenging the industry and local government to raise part of the money required for each of these stations themselves. It is very important that the additional programme funding which I am announcing should be supplemented in this way so that as many stations as possible can be tackled.

It will be helpful and constructive to give organisations in the industry, the devolved Administrations and local government an opportunity to comment on the many very detailed proposals in the report before we decide how to take them forward. I want to be sure that when we implement the report we give priority to the most urgent actions and get the best possible value for the taxpayers’ investment.

I am placing copies of the champions' report, the Government's initial response and the consultation I have launched in the Libraries of both Houses. The text of these documents is also being posted on my department's website.