Bex and Dan think about how stations could be made safer, and more passenger-friendly, in our latest podcast series all about Britain’s rail network!
The number of passengers using the railways is increasing and to keep everyone safe – and comfortable – stations are going to have to change.
When many stations were built by the Victorians, they were built in the open countryside near the towns they served.
Over time, those towns grew and so today most stations are within built up areas. That means it’s not easy to extend stations or their platforms to accommodate growing numbers. So engineers have to come up with some clever ways to make things run more smoothly…
It might be that narrow corridors and small ticket offices can be rebuilt to create more space.
Sometimes though its better to completely rebuild a station so that its has better access and can offer facilities that passengers demand – more welcoming entrances, with clear signs of where to go and easy access for disabled passengers with ramps instead of steps.
Platforms might need to be extended to accommodate longer modern trains and rebuilt so that they are of a constant height and with the smallest possible gap so it’s easier to get onto trains.
Better lighting, platform shelters and lifts and escalators to the platforms can also improve things for passengers, perhaps with different entrances and exits from the platforms so passengers don’t get in each others way.
The platforms at the new Elizabeth line stations under London are some of the longest in the UK – over 250 metres in length and able to accommodate 12 car trains.
Like at some existing Underground stations, the Elizabeth line platforms will feature glass screen doors, providing a physical barrier between the platform and the track.
Trains will automatically stop with their doors adjacent to the screen doors, both opening together.
As well as departure boards, digital technology can keeps apps up to date to help passengers find a reserved or a free seat.
In the future, smart barriers with biometric scanners could count the number of passengers getting on board, helping direct other passengers to carriages with more empty seats.
Ticket barriers are important to make sure that only people who have bought a ticket can get on the train. As you might have found out if you’ve been tried to go through the barriers at rush hour, they can be a place where there’s sometimes a big crush of people waiting their turn.
Digital technology is making it easier to buy and check tickets. Already more and more passengers are purchasing ‘e-tickets’ online and downloading them to smartphones or other devices. Smart cards and barcodes can also help.
This might mean we can do away with ticket halls and barriers, helping passengers to board the trains more quickly – and without the crush!
Smart ticketing can also help give railway companies more information about the types of tickets people want, helping them to better plan the routes and tickets available.
With a growing population and people living in new parts of the country, expanding and improving existing stations isn’t the only option.
Brand new modern stations might be needed, like ‘parkway’ stations in the countryside with large car parks.
More space and smoother routes into the platforms, and onto the trains themselves will help passengers get on board more easily.
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