The HUB Station - Consultation Comments by ConnectedCities
It is good that stations will have a coherent identity, and with the arrival of Great British Railways that will become even more important. London Transport’s Piccadilly line stations designed by William Holden are a good example of how stations can have an identity that clearly signals the presence of the railway, reflects their local area but have a common style that unifies the city. The HUB station has the potential to do the same.
It’s pleasing that the images now show surrounding development with new buildings. Stations should be a focus of green and clean growth, with rail transport rather than cars as the norm. It is in the interest of the railway to work with developers to create housing for people who will use trains more.
Integrating stations with the communities they serve while linking the different communities together offers the opportunity for people to benefit not only from their own ‘15 Minute Neighbourhood’ but also others just down the line.
The canopies of the Welcome Mat is a great idea. It would also be good to see simila protected walkways extending into the surrounding areas to lead people to the station and its amenities. The PV could pay for the street lighting while keeping off the rain.
Environment and Sustainability
Firstly, it is important to know that 27% of UK GHG emissions are from transport. It is the largest sector, and the only one that is still growing.
Department of BEIS statistics published March 2021 state: ‘Transport produced 27% of the UK’s total emissions in 2019. 91% came from road transport vehicles (111 MtCO2e).
Rail produced 1.8 MtCO2e.’ - less than 2%.
Improving the rail experience and service is essential to enable the modal shift from cars necessary to achieve Net Zero by 2050. The RTPI calculate that a ‘mode shift to walking, cycling, public and shared transport going beyond the UK’s existing ‘best practice’ benchmarks. i.e. achieving bigger mode shift than has been achieved hitherto. (Without this the targets cannot be met. To achieve the target...) 40% of longer-distance trips (need to) be served by public transport.’
The embodied carbon in station buildings is very important – but increasing the attractiveness of rail travel is even more important.
Secondly, demolishing existing buildings in order to replace them with new structures is very energy inefficient. Even if the new structures have very low embodied carbon (and the use of laminated timber is excellent) they will still create a greater carbon footprint.
There is no indication of how the HUB system integrates with existing station buildings. Improving facilities is excellent (e.g. new or extended canopies), but there should be a clear examples of how that is to be done, what is to be be retained and upgraded, and how these work together.
Thirdly the use of photovoltaic panels is to be applauded and encouraged. There are several different types of transparent PV glass other than those shown, some of which have shorter payback periods. For an example see here
Inclusion and Accessibility
Clocktower an excellent feature giving identity. But it would be good if signage with live train times should also be in locations further from the station, so that those going to catch a train can be updated even when several minutes walk away and pace themselves accordingly. It also serves to make those in the community more aware of the rail service.
The Welcome Mat also an excellent idea as a principle. However the routes to it should also have canopies, and they should extend into the surrounding area. Since transparent PV glass can generate an income they can be self funding, and over the long term make a profit.
The bus is shown in the middle of the car park with not protected waiting adjacent.. Presumably passengers are supposed to sit in the shelter of the Mat, and then carry their luggage in the rain across to the bus?
Stations attract groups of teenagers who use them as free protected gathering spaces where there is limited adult supervision. While they may actually make the stations safer, many travellers will regard these groups as a possible threat, and make may put them off using the station. CCTV goes a long way to overcoming these fears, but the presence of other activity such as shops, cafes, etc is much more effective at easing anxieties.
Stations used to a have to accommodate steam trains, with all their smoke and dust, etc, and that is why they were open to the sky and at the sides. But modern trains do not produce clouds of sulphurous gas which have to be dispersed, so why are they not fully enclosed? With this design even passengers waiting in a comfortable pod still have to gather belongings, children etc and cross a potentially rain and windswept platform to enter the train. Why cannot the whole of the platform area be fully enclosed, so there is not wind? If the enclosure is constructed using PV glass it will pay for itself over a decade or so.
Community & Enterprise
The provision of flexible space is very good.
At present small stations can be peripheral to the communities they serve. But promoting development around them will enable low carbon travel to be easy, and the additional passenger numbers a better frequency service
It will vary from location to location, but the TOC should be required to have a commitment to provide a staffing framework on and with which local communities and businesses can build.
Stations with enough development around them will support retail such as Sainsbury's Local
Activities should not be limited to the immediate surroundings, but coordinate with adjacent stations on the rail network, so that together the can function as a greater whole - a ConnectedCity.