The benchmark set by the £800 million refurbishment of London’s St Pancras and the ongoing development of London Bridge station – with its £6 billion price tag – have provided the rail renovation industry with a welcome boost in recent years.

The 2011 McKinsey report Keeping Britain Moving estimated the cost of maintaining, renewing and expanding the UK’s rail infrastructure at around £125 billion over the next two decades. The estimate is based on 2010 costs and works out at around £6 billion a year, a substantial amount of which will go towards upgrading some of the country’s 2,500 stations.

The benefits of station refurbishment can be seen in a report commissioned by Northern Rail prior to and after its renovation of Rochdale and Harrogate stations. Customer satisfaction levels shot up from 48 to 76 per cent at the latter station and the knock-on effect was a three per cent rise in the Toc’s income.

According to a Department for Transport report Better Rail Stations (2009) the current spend of £600 million per year is sufficient to hold most stations at their current condition only, says the report and should be stepped up by 25 per cent for the ten-year period from 2014 to around £800 million a year.

Dozens of UK stations have been earmarked for renovations including extra platforms, escalators and new concourse areas. The demand creates a need for new station furniture which includes benches, shelters, ticket machines and bins.

Aside from the standards set out in the £370 million Access for All upgrade programme to provide step-free and lift access at all stations by 2020, there is a major push to improve cycling and car parking facilities at stations. The target set in 2009, by the experts behind the Better Rail Stations report, is for five per cent of joining passengers to arrive at the station on bicycles by next year. If achieved, it would mark a three per cent increase.

Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport, Norman Baker, has announced that £12 million is earmarked to be spent getting rail commuters out of their cars and onto bikes.

Hellifield stationHellifield station

133 year-old Hellifield station in the Yorkshire Dales is in the process of returning to its former glory thanks to Network Rail.

While there has been a station at the site since 1849, the existing canopy, which was constructed in 1880 by the Midland Railway, is a Grade II listed building.

Built of iron and glass, the station was last refurbished in the mid-1990’s. With the Pennine weather having taken its toll, Network Rail began a £500,000 project in July to repair and redecorate the station’s structural steelwork and glazing.

Route managing director Dyan Crowther said: ‘This is a beautiful old building and the investment we are making to sympathetically refurbish it will safeguard its future and allow passengers to continue to enjoy the station in decades to come.’

The station is managed by Northern Rail and will remain open throughout the refurbishment, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Green light for New Street’s lamp block

One of the greenest buildings on the network has been awarded a prestigious seal of approval from an internationally recognised body in construction sustainability standards.

‘The lamp block’ building on Platform 1 at Birmingham New Street station, opened last summer, has
been awarded a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) rating of Excellent in recognition of its wealth of sustainable features including a solar thermal system to generate hot water, sub-metering for all water, heating and cooling to monitor energy consumption and an energy efficient lighting system.

Solar panels generating electricity sit alongside the building’s green roof which contains more than 14 different plant species to contribute to the area’s local ecology and reduce rainwater run-off into the drainage system. This renewable technology is expected to reduce the building’s carbon emissions by 10 per cent.

The lamp block was delivered last summer by Network Rail on behalf of Cross Country Trains and was constructed in less than a year within a very challenging environment between a rock face and the live operational railway.

Call for historical information on Pantyffynnon

Network Rail has put out a call for historical information on Pantyffynnon station in Carmarthenshire as part of its plans to restore the Grade II listed former station building.

Pantyffynnon stationBelieved to date from 1857 and built to an Isambard Kingdom Brunel chalet design, the station lies on the Heart of Wales Line at its junction with the branch lines to Brynamman and Abernant.

However, the project team need the support of the local community and possibly beyond, to pinpoint the finer detailing of the building in times gone by. They are particularly interested in any photographs of the north end of the building.

Network Rail’s director of route asset management for Wales, Jonathan Pegg, said: ‘We are appealing to former railway workers, local historians, rail users or enthusiasts to provide any old photographs, engravings or records of the building. Items dating from its early life between 1860 and 1920 are of particular interest.
Information should be sent to Adam Checkley, Network Rail, 5 Callaghan Square, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, CF10 5BT, or email Adam.Checkley@ . Documents sent to Network Rail will be returned to the owner by recorded delivery within 14 days of receipt.

The hope is to restore the station building over the next year with funding from Network Rail and the Railway Heritage Trust.

Raising the roof at Victoria station

Passengers using Manchester’s Victoria station are only one year away from enjoying a newly revitalised, lighter and brighter station as part of a £44 million investment programme being delivered by Network Rail.

Manchester’s Victoria station

The project includes replacing four sections of the old, leaky steel roof (which will be recycled) with a stunning new one that will flood the station with natural light. Demolition teams worked throughout the summer to remove the old roof and will shortly be installing new steel beams up to 120 meters long which will support the new roof structure. The roof is due for completion in summer 2014 with the station refurbishment scheduled for completion early in 2015.

Dyan Crowther, Network Rail route managing director said: ‘Rebuilding Manchester Victoria is an integral part of our investment plans for the North which will help provide more than £4 billion worth of wider economic benefits to the region.’

Easier access for Cumbrian Coast passengers

Passengers using the Cumbrian Coast line are now enjoying better access between platforms and trains at eight stations as part of a £5 million project covering 80 platforms at 62 stations in England and Wales.
The ‘Harrington Hump’ is a modular and easy-to-install system used to raise the height of platforms which in the past have been too low for some passengers to use. The system takes its name from Cumbria’s Harrington railway station, location of the first production version. Now, Harrington Humps are slowly being installed on other UK railway stations.

Cumbrian Coast lineThe system can be custom built to suit the needs of a particular station and installed in a matter of days at a fraction of the accepted cost of rebuilding the platform. Works cost typically £25,000 to £50,000 depending on complexity and size of the job.

Dyan Crowther, Network Rail route managing director explained: ‘Rather than an expensive platform rebuild, sections of platforms are raised to the same height as the train door. Importantly, the structure is also ramped making it ideal for anyone to use.’

Cllr Keith Little of Cumbria County Council said: ‘Cumbria has led the way in providing innovative solutions to
the challenges of passenger access. Our Harrington Hump scheme has won national awards, with the term now ensuring Harrington will have its place in railway history for evermore.’

Funding was provided by the Department for Transport’s Access For All programme, supported by Cumbria County Council and Northern Rail and the work was delivered by Network Rail. The eight stations are Bootle (Cumbria), Braystones, Corkickle, Drigg, Flimby, Kents Bank, Parton and Wigton.