The economic benefits of modernising Preston railway station are to be explored in a study commissioned by Lancashire Enterprise Partnerships (LEP). Last week the LEP approved proposals by its Transport for Lancashire committee to assess the case for transforming the station.
“Specialist consultants will need to be engaged to undertake this work, which will also need to include forecasts of future passenger demand, particularly for when HS2 services begin operating in 2026.”
Turning the station into a high quality transport hub with enhanced passenger and commercial facilities will enable it to serve people and businesses better, said the transport committee.
New employment and commercial developments planned for central Lancashire would potentially create around 20,000 private sector jobs and deliver more than 17,000 new homes, the committee said. “Enhanced rail connectivity could act as a major stimulus for further employment growth in Lancashire, potentially contributing to the LEP's objective of an additional 50,000 new jobs by 2025 and, in turn, supporting the broader growth objectives of the Northern Powerhouse.”
Despite being a major interchange between West Coast Main Line services operated by Virgin Trains and Trans-Pennine Express and inter and intra-regional and local services operated by Northern, Preston station has received limited investment over many decades, the committee notes.
“The station building lacks presence, resulting in poor first impressions of the city for visitors and poor customer satisfaction, and has poor DDA compliance.”
Also, the current track layout, platform lengths and lack of level access between trains and platforms would all need to change before the arrival of HS2 trains.
It highlights a range of faults with the current station: poor use of platforms; poor accessibility and circulation; track and pedestrian capacity; dated and unsuitable facilities; poor retail and commercial offer in the station; poor vehicular circulation and parking locations; poor inter-relationships with adjacent and nearby land, underused land resources; and pedestrian safety.
This has all contributed to “a poor passenger experience” which has “prevented the station from contributing towards the wider growth and development of the city centre”.
Modernisation would also tackle increasing maintenance costs of structures including platforms, overbridges and subways, the committee added.
Find out more about modernising stations as part of regeneration plans at the Rail Stations and Property Summit
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