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Britain’s rail renaissance: what can new local stations learn from major projects?

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Our rail network is  experiencing what some are referring to as a ‘rail renaissance.’ We are witnessing a period of unprecedented investment in rail from major infrastructure projects, local/regional schemes and the re-opening of Beeching lines.

HS2 is arguably spearheading this renaissance as we build  a state-of-the-art, high-speed line critical for the UK’s low carbon transport future. It will provide much-needed rail capacity across the country and is integral to rail projects in the North and Midlands – helping to rebalance the UK economy.[1] With the exception of HS1, it is the first major railway line to be built in the UK since the Victorian era.

And in order to enable communities across the country to access our rail network, the Government has also committed to a range of investments in new local and regional lines and stations.

For example in the Midlands, where HS2’s investment will deliver two new major stations  (Curzon Street and Interchange) at the heart of the new high-speed network, a number of other new stations have been confirmed  in the Birmingham area including Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell. These stations see the re-opening of the Camp Hill Line to passengers; the first time these services have been available for passengers since the Second World War.

Given all of this investment, development and regeneration, it’s an ideal time to leverage a culture of collaboration, knowledge sharing and showcasing best practice, to help projects benefit from the insights gained from so much activity.

There is much that the smaller, local stations can learn from a major project such as HS2 in regard to best practice. HS2’s Curzon Street Station could act as a blueprint for future, subsequent station designs irrespective of size in the local area and further afield.

If we consider HS2’s Curzon Street Station, its design aspires to provide seamless access to multiple modes of transport, including other train services.  The design also aims to promote significant investment and regeneration as outlined in the Curzon Street Masterplan, and it’s an approach that can be echoed across other stations, where communities can benefit from the ripple impact of investment

HS2 has also undertaken extensive engagement with the community and proximal stakeholders that will be benefactors, and this approach of early engagement, inviting stakeholder thoughts and feedback can also be echoed.. This collaborative approach enables communities to truly connect with a project and feel a sense of engagement and ownership that can ensure it becomes a successful hub.

Regional authorities are also actively encouraging their communities to use public transport.  Measures are being put in place to minimise/deter the use of private vehicles, for example Birmingham City Council will be launching its ‘Clean Air Zone’ in June 2021.  Therefore, the way we use and interact with the rail network and stations of the future may well evolve and offers opportunities to draw in more passengers.

Join us on Wednesday, May 19th 2021 – 12:30 PM (BST) for a discussion “Insights from a new golden age of rail stations“.

Our panel will be made up of experts who are involved in some of the country’s biggest current rail station projects, as client, architect, contractor and multi-disciplinary project managers, sharing insights from a range of different projects.

[1] https://www.hs2.org.uk/what-is-hs2/

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