Far from stationary

16 August 2018
Gerry Leighton
Gerry Leighton
Head of Stations & Depots

There are over 2,500 operational train stations in Britain, each providing a gateway to the communities they serve. We know how important station facilities are to a passenger’s journey and an important part of our role is to make sure they are fit for purpose.

A hub of activity

In fact, stations are so important they encapsulate nearly our full remit as rail regulator and rely on effective collaboration right across ORR.

Our work includes approving station access agreements, collating data on station usage as well as ensuring stations are safe and fit for purpose.  
We also monitor compliance with standards on station accessibility as well as safeguard against the inappropriate disposal of Network Rail land by giving consent to the disposal of railway land only where it is not needed for future railway use.

Inform and influence

As rail regulator, we can inform and influence what happens at stations. At a high level our regulatory approach to stations can be described as incentivising the industry to work together (including with third parties like local authorities, Passenger Transport Executives and developers) to improve the quality of stations. We can also facilitate this approach by ensuring, where we can, that we minimise any regulatory barriers that exist.

While the regulatory framework for stations provides consistency and a degree of certainty for stakeholders, it is also flexible and there are many examples where we have modified the framework to accommodate alternative approaches to the management and operation of stations such as that at Bromsgrove.

Bromsgrove station

This was a significant station re-development, financed using third-party investment. Our approach was to work closely with all interested parties as they developed their proposals and using our experience of previous station investment schemes to ensure our regulatory requirements didn’t create barriers to the progression of the Bromsgrove station scheme.

An example of this was in approving a bespoke charging regime that ensured the cost of enhancing the station was covered by the train operators using it, helping facilitate significant investment in the station that might otherwise not have been available.

The benefits from endorsing this approach to regulatory requirements has delivered a station and operation that is fit for purpose. The endorsement of plans to allow electrified train services to call at this station has resulted in a significant increase from 45 to 132 trains serving Bromsgrove on weekdays. Car parking facilities have also improved considerably along with better connectivity to other forms of public transport.


Protecting consumers

As you can see, there are a wide range of activities around stations and each of these bring their own rules that station operators must comply with to ensure passengers receive a high level of service in a safe environment. It’s our job to monitor if they are. Our consumer programme is targeted to the areas of most concern to passengers (like the provision of information, ticket retailing and accessibility), while our regulation of safety at stations helps ensure that risks to passengers (like slips, trips and falls) are minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.

Further information on the stations work we do can be found on our Stations and Depots section.