Sam Sherwood-Hale spoke to Andrew Wood, Lead Development Manager at Network Rail about station development, design and funding

Peckham Rye was designated a priority station for capacity, accessibility and safety improvements last year. What criteria does Network Rail look for when making these designations?

Network Rail maintains a national prioritised register of stations, that warrant investment due to overcrowding. The stations that feature on the list, were assessed for impact on passenger safety and experience using site surveys and ped flow modelling.

With regard to station accessibility schemes, the industry proposes stations for funding each Control Period. Candidate stations are nominated based on level and type of passenger use, interchange volume and proximity of key amenities such as hospitals.

How is funding allocated to these types of projects?

Funding for major schemes is sought through the Department for Transport’s Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline (RNEP) fund. Funding for Access for All elements of projects is provided through a ring-fenced budget agreed as part of Network Rail’s CP6 Funding Settlement. We are continually encouraged by the Government to seek third party investment to partner the Government funds.

How do you ensure that the transformation of the station will benefit passengers with mobility difficulties?

When developing station designs, the Network Rail project team will reach out to a variety of organisations related to all protected groups, to understand their needs and wants from any prospective development. These will then be captured in a Diversity Impact Assessment that all projects are obliged to carry out, and considered for inclusion into project scope.

What kind of standards do you have to keep to?

Network Rail’s development of stations must adhere to a series of industry standards, that cover everything from stairway widths, canopy heights, seating provision, capabilities of lifts, lighting, public address and CCTV systems. Network Rail’s development of projects follows Governance for Railway Infrastructure Projects (GRIP), which is a project methodology designed for use on railway projects.

On the Peckham Rye Station project, what does your cooperation with Govia Thameslink Railway and Southeastern look like?

The Network Rail project team works very closely with all operators that use the station to ensure the development is acceptable and beneficial to them. In particular, the team are working especially closely with the station operator, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR). This is demonstrated by the project’s development contractors being procured and managed through GTR, thus ensuring the closest collaboration with them. This will be a particular feature of this project.

Southwark Council has said that lots of work has been going on behind the scenes to ‘develop the designs and work with local businesses’. Network Rail often carries out consultations with local communities, how do these consultations inform your decision making?

Network Rail has a responsibility to work with local communities to ensure developments are not only suitable for the operational railway, but integrate well with their surroundings. In the project at Peckham Rye, the project team is especially aware of the sensitive nature of the Grade II* listed building and how it resides in its local environment and community. It is therefore of paramount importance that we involve and consult with the local community in our design of a station that they can feel proud of, that they enjoy using and that benefits their local area.

You’ve previously said that Network Rail will be holding online workshops to involve interested parties in crafting the designs – presumably these will continue as usual despite social distancing measures? Have these workshops already begun and what kind of designs have you seen so far?

The project aims to work with community spokespeople throughout the project. With the continuing and uncertain impact of the pandemic, the project will need to consider measures to protect attendees. Workshops are likely to be held virtually for now, with the likelihood of continual social distancing in the future. The project has only recently won funding, so it will be a while before the first designs are produced, but we will be inviting community spokespeople to a series of forums and the wider community to workshops in the near future as the project progresses.

You’ve been responsible for sponsoring the development of enhancement projects on the South East Rail Network for over eight years. What are some of the projects that stand out to you the most from that time?

I’ve been involved in a variety of different projects in that time. The variation of the work and the ability to shape the future, represent to me perhaps the most invigorating aspects of the job. Looking back, I suppose a key achievement was the delivery of the innovative Brighton Main Line Blockade that took place over February 2019 half term. I spent 18 months working closely with my team in preparing to deliver what became an award-winning success. Another one that stands out is my sponsoring of an enhancement to Denmark Hill station that we hope to deliver next year. This features a brand-new station entrance useful for the adjacent hospitals, better platforms involving new canopies, all covered with Photo Voltaic cells to generate all of the developments power. Looking forward we recently won funding to develop detailed designs for potential redevelopment of Lewisham station. That’s very challenging project, but also one that passengers need. So I’m excited about that.

We’ve worked very closely with the local community to get the little details right and ensure it delivers lasting change that everyone can be proud of.

Andrew Wood is Lead Development Manager at Network Rail