Accrington Station Travel Plan
Accrington lies between Blackburn and Burnley. The rail station is located 300 metres to the west of the town centre on an embankment on the approach to a large viaduct, which dominates the Accrington sky line. Two Northern Rail routes serve the station; Blackpool South to Colne and Blackpool North to York. The most popular weekday destinations are Preston, Blackburn and Manchester to the west and Burnley, Nelson and Bradford/Leeds to the east. Blackpool is a popular leisure destination. There are two platforms which can accommodate three car trains.
Need for a Travel Plan
Accrington is the main centre of Hyndburn Borough with thirty per cent of households not owning a car, significantly below the average for Lancashire. Many households in Hyndburn are therefore dependent upon public transport to reach essential services, with rail being one of the key modes of travel.
Lancashire County Council, working with Northern Rail, plans to demolish the existing station building to the north of the line and replace it with a new single storey eco-friendly building on the south side. It will be designed to be environmentally efficient as possible and will incorporate solar water heating and a wind turbine to provide sustainable electricity to the building.
This will be an ideal opportunity to promote sustainable travel to and from the new station, with improved access being provided for pedestrians, new facilities for cyclists incorporating ten hoops and ten lockers, better integration with bus services and a remodelled car park with disabled and parent friendly spaces.
On a local level, the regular staff member at Accrington Station was consulted to ensure that the objectives of the Station Travel Plan would address some of the users' comments and complaints. He stated that customers complained on a daily basis about the sheer steepness of the slope from the Paxton Street entrance, bus stops should be nearer or adjacent to the station to help people connecting between the two modes of public transport and secure cycle storage is also needed as currently cycles have to be left chained to railings. In addition, signage on/around the station showing directions to the town centre, taxis and bus station would assist passengers. It is therefore pleasing that the Station Travel Plan will be able to focus on these issues.
Description of the process
Lancashire County Council's rail section has a good track record of delivering projects through partnership working and as it had already taken the lead with plans to build a new eco station, it was decided that it would also take the responsibility to manage the associated station travel plan. However, without the cooperation of the other stakeholders involved with the project, Lancashire County Council would not have been able to formulate the plan.
The key stakeholders involved with the project are Northern Rail, Hyndburn Borough Council, East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership and local bus operator Transdev Lancashire United. The group has been also had support from Passenger Focus.
It was important that all of the stakeholders were committed to delivering the station travel plan for Accrington and therefore formal meetings were arranged to enable people to share ideas and knowledge but also ensure that a contribution could be made from each organisation. One of the main outcomes was to split the plan into two stages, due to the proposed station redevelopment occurring a year into the duration of the plan.destinations are Preston, Blackburn and Manchester to the west and Burnley, Nelson and Bradford/Leeds to the east. Blackpool is a popular leisure destination
Action Plan highlights
New eco station building: The new eco station building will rejuvenate the station and make it more attractive to users which should lead to an increased number of people using the station.
Cycle facilities: Currently there are no cycle facilities at the station, so it is hoped that the introduction of hoops and lockers will make a step change in the number of people cycling to and from the station.
Bus, Cycle and Walk Guide: In order to encourage people to travel to and from the station by sustainable modes it is proposed to provide a detailed bus, cycle and walk guide.
Directional signage: Directional signage at the station and in the surrounding area does need improving and once implemented will be particularly beneficial for people walking between the rail station and the current bus station at Peel Street.
Tesco development: With the proposal to build a new Tesco supermarket adjacent to the station, it will be important to encourage shoppers and staff to consider rail as their mode of travel to and from Accrington. However, there will also be a requirement to ensure that the station car park is used for rail business and does not become an overspill for the store.
Key lessons learned
Once Accrington had been chosen as one of the pilot stations, Lancashire County Council engaged stakeholders and stressed the need for commitment to the project. Meetings have been predominately held in Accrington and this has proved beneficial if a site visit to the station and/or surrounding area has been required.
All stakeholders have been kept informed of the progress of the station travel plan through formal minutes and information provided by the National Steering Group. The site audit provided a good insight into how directional signage could be improved at the station and this has been incorporated into the plans for the new eco station.
A Northern Rail employee seconded to Lancashire County Council to work on community rail partnership schemes has provided useful local information and contacts to assist with the development of the plan. Funding for the travel plan is limited but it is hoped that the European Union grant for the eco station and contributions made available from the new Tesco supermarket will enable the objectives to come to fruition.