Hazel Grove Station Travel Plan

Context

Hazel Grove is a busy suburban rail station situated on the south-eastern edge of Greater Manchester within the Borough of Stockport, approximately 4.5km from Stockport Town Centre. The station is served by two train services per hour to/from Manchester Piccadilly — the hourly Buxton to Manchester Piccadilly service and the hourly Hazel Grove to Preston service. There is also one service a day to Sheffield via the Hope Valley line.

The station predominantly serves commuters who work in the Greater Manchester area. There is also a substantial flow of off-peak passengers during the day, with anecdotal evidence of many passengers from outside the Greater Manchester boundary driving to the station to take advantage of the lower fares available within the Greater Manchester boundary.

Hazel Grove train station is located close to the centre of Hazel Grove itself. Hazel Grove has a thriving shopping centre, with a mix of independent and national retailers, catering for a wide range of shopping needs. The station is also situated close to a large residential area, several employment sites and a large hospital.

Need for a Travel Plan

The number of cars accessing and exiting the station leads to localised congestion, especially at peak times, as there is only one entrance point into the station car-park for vehicles and only one exit point from it. This is not only a congestion problem, but also leads to conflicts with pedestrians accessing the station.

Demand for car-parking spaces exceeds the number of spaces available. The car-park fills very quickly, resulting in parking taking place on nearby side-streets and causing other conflicts. There is evidence that passengers who live within relatively close proximity of the station (well within 1km) are choosing to drive to the station over distances which could easily be walked or cycled instead.

The lack of safe, direct step-free access routes into the station (from the West, East and South) discourages passengers from accessing the station by foot or cycle. The shortage of adequate and easy-to-use cycle storage facilities also acts to discourage greater levels of cycling to the station, whilst the current layout of the car-park and lack of accessible crossing points hinders access from those with mobility impairments.

More positively though, Hazel Grove station and the surrounding area also offer good potential for progress in a station travel plan:

  • The station is centrally located within Hazel Grove itself and close to residential areas and employment sites.
  • There is good potential for bus/rail integration with very good provision of bus services along the A6 corridor, and also buses serving the station directly.
  • The station has a good rail service.
  • The station benefits from extensive CCTV, real time information and step-free access from ticket office to both platforms.
  • Several projects are already planned or taking place in the Hazel Grove area (e.g. personalised travel planning, traffic calming, parking restraint), which can be integrated together through a travel plan to deliver substantial benefits for the wider community.

Description of the process

Representatives from Stockport Council (including highway engineer, cycling officer and workplace travel plan co-ordinator), GMPTE and Northern Rail are involved in the initiative with Stockport Council acting as the lead authority in taking the project forward.

The plan has been put together following initial site visits to the station, then refined after the ATOC workshop in London and a meeting held for the project group. The plan is very much a living document, evolving as the lead officers on the project continue to discuss it with the other stakeholders.

Regular progress meetings will be held with the project group to review progress and move the project forward. The main focus at the moment is to deliver some 'quick wins' which can help generate momentum to take the project further and maintain interest from all stakeholders.

Action Plan highlights

  • Provision of 12 cycle stands under cover at station.
  • Provision of direct access for pedestrians and cyclists into station car-park from School Street-Chester Road shared use footway/cycle route.
  • Provision of direct step-free access from Newby Road to Manchester-bound platform.
  • Provision of signed cycle routes between Hazel Grove station, A6, Stepping Hill Hospital and Offerton.
  • Provision of information board on station facilities, and map of surrounding bus stops, walking and cycle routes.

Key lessons learned

So far during this project, we have learned the importance of speaking to colleagues and stakeholders as early as possible about the individual travel plan proposals, to give the best chance possible of being delivered on time. This is especially important for proposals requiring train operator and Network Rail approval, and additional time for these needs to be factored in accordingly.

Another key lesson learned is making the most out of existing data. Analysis of consultation surveys and applying accessibility mapping techniques is enabling an understanding of where passengers travel from and which proposals would have the biggest impact on improving accessibility into the station and increasing numbers of those walking or cycling to the station.

Finally, it is important to identify achievable, low-cost 'quick-win' solutions to get the initiative up-and-running.

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