[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 2 February 2006, 08:18 GMT
State of rail stations under fire
Train
The MPs say many stations have no staff on hand
Many of Britain's railway stations are a "poor advertisement" for the country, an influential group of MPs has said.

Far too many small and medium-sized stations were "threatening places, with poorly-lit, graffiti-covered passages and platforms", the MPs claimed.

The Public Accounts Committee said there was a "stark contrast" between modern trains and the "deplorable state" of the stations they serve.

The Department for Transport says 87m is invested in the network every week.

'No toilets'

The committee found one-third of larger stations in England and Wales had no waiting rooms and there were no toilets at about 15%.

More than half of Britain's stations were not fully accessible to parents with young children or disabled people.

The original franchises gave little incentive to the train operating companies to modernise stations
Edward Leigh
Public Accounts Committee

Too few train operating companies had joined national crime reduction schemes despite studies suggesting they could increase passenger numbers by up to 11%.

MPs on the PAC said private sector investment in stations had been discouraged by the "sheer number of bodies involved, all at loggerheads about who is responsible for what".

The committee called on the Department for Transport to investigate whether new standards for stations could be added to existing franchise deals.

The committee's chairman, Tory MP Edward Leigh, said "vandalised facilities" and there being "no staff on hand" made the stations "a poor advertisement for our country".

'Complicated procedures'

Members discovered that the numbers of bodies involved in improving and maintaining stations had led to a fragmented approach, lacking strategic focus and overall leadership.

Britain's travelling public deserve to be able to wait for their trains in safety and comfort
Tom Brake
Liberal Democrat spokesman

They also said Network Rail, which owns most of the UK's 2,507 stations, was a barrier to improvement because of inflexible and unduly complicated procedures.

The company operates 17 of the largest stations and leases out 2,490 stations to 22 train operating companies.

Mr Leigh said passenger needs had taken second place, adding: "The original franchises gave little incentive to the train operating companies to modernise stations".

Cleanliness

However, a Network Rail spokesman said 400m had been invested in its 17 major stations over the past five years.

Work was under way to ease collaboration between organisations and to add in up to 4bn of investment from property developers, he said.

"The company will continue to work with train operators, the government and other funding partners to improve the standards and facilities at railway stations."

George Muir, of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said there had been "huge improvements" to stations in recent years.

He said: "We spend an enormous amount on stations and we try and allocate, put that money where it's going to make the most difference."

A Department for Transport spokeswoman admitted there was "room for further improvement", adding they would work to create a "cleaner and more pleasant travelling environment for passengers".

Shadow transport secretary Chris Grayling said it was "worrying" that the situation was not improving despite spending increases.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Tom Brake said: "Britain's travelling public deserve to be able to wait for their trains in safety and comfort."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See CCTV footage of violence at one station



SEE ALSO:
Car sharers link up via the web
14 Jun 05 |  South East Wales


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific