Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

50m revamp for 'worst stations'

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Jenny Hill takes a look around Manchester Victoria station

Ten railway stations in England most in need of modernisation are to get £50m to carry out urgent improvements.

Manchester Victoria, Clapham Junction in south London and Crewe, in Cheshire, were among those with the worst customer satisfaction ratings.

The money will be spent on improving facilities such as car parks and shops.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, who is due to make a lightning tour of all 10, said rail operators would be required to ensure minimum standards in future.

'Left behind'

Last week, rail operator Network Rail announced plans to spend £3.25bn to improve more than 2,000 stations across England and Wales by 2014.

A dilapidated station is bad business for both town and railway
Report by the government's rail "champions"

But the government's railway "champions" - former Virgin Trains chief executive Chris Green and Town and Country Planning Association president Sir Peter Hall - have identified 10 that are in need of the most urgent work.

In a report released on Tuesday, they described the 10 as having been "left behind".

Many were large Victorian buildings that were difficult to develop or had little commercial appeal, they said, and all had customer satisfaction ratings of less than 50%.

Manchester Victoria was judged to be the worst followed by Clapham Junction and Crewe, with all three suffering from overcrowding.

Also on list are Barking, Stockport, Warrington Bank Quay, Preston, Wigan North Western, Luton and Liverpool Central.

The champions argued that Scotland had avoided the problem of poor stations by organising funding more effectively over a number of decades.

'Journey experience'

"Stations cannot be seen in isolation - they are part of the total journey experience," their report said.

Commuters at Manchester Victoria welcomed the cash for station improvements

"Stations are deeply entwined with their local community and effectively act as the gateway to both town and railway. They leave passengers with their lasting impressions of both - a dilapidated station is bad business for both town and railway."

The report added that the last decade "has seen the rail industry focus successfully on restoring reliability and investing in a record number of new trains".

Its authors went on: "The next decade should build on this foundation to deliver the total journey experience - but to do this it will have to focus more on its stations."

Lord Adonis agreed that while train travel itself had "improved a good deal in recent years... more needs to be done to improve conditions and services for passengers at stations".

"I want every station to be a good station - a hub of local community life and somewhere that you wouldn't mind spending time, with adequate facilities," he said.

More CCTV

"I support the report's recommendations of minimum standards for stations - classed by size - in terms of information, car and bike parking, facilities and environment.

THE 10 WORST STATIONS
Manchester Victoria
Clapham Junction
Crewe
Barking
Stockport
Warrington Bank Quay
Preston
Wigan North Western
Luton
Liverpool Central

"I intend to make these minimum standards a requirement in future rail franchise agreements with train operating companies."

Network Rail said it would work closely with the Department for Transport to begin a programme of improvements at the 10 stations as soon as possible.

Among the changes announced last week were improved passenger information systems, new toilets and waiting rooms, better lighting and more use of CCTV.



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