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“Bottleneck” Preston station criticised in rail report

Posted on - 12th September, 2011 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - News, Transport

Platform 4, Preston Station, after the peak rush hour

Preston Station has been branded one of the worst for passenger overcrowding and bottlenecks.

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The regional West Coast hub was identified on an 11-strong station list requiring intervention, with action needed to ease congestion.

Rail travellers using Preston frequently experience a busy ticket office, crammed walkways and stairs, finding it difficult to manoeuvre.

Seasoned passengers also experience major problems on the narrow island Platforms 1, 2, 5 and 6 dealing with large volumes of trains and users.

However, the report, released by Network Rail (NR), stopped short of committing investment, meaning rail travellers could find station overcrowding exacerbated until the end of the decade.

Aidan Turner-Bishop, from Campaign for Better Transport, said the organisation “isn’t suprised” about the inclusion because overcrowding has been an issue highlighted in other reports.

The lobby group suggested the ‘ghost’ platform, across from the current Platform 1 should be reopened to ease passenger capacity.

In NR’s findings, it identified crowding leading from both footbridges into the ticket office caused by queuing, “impeding” smooth passenger flows. As a result, the report suggested both footbridges should be replaced by more modern, wider design and leave the ticket office unchanged.

NR also said Platform 1 and 2 is under strain from a large frequency of train services using both platforms every hour. The narrow island platform also experience peak-time overcrowding, with passengers taking several minutes to leave the platform.

The report concluded that trains should terminate on different areas on both platforms and suggested that relocating buffet facilities would help increase platform space around the stairwell and reduce the severe congestion.

Customers with luggage, prams and push chairs, also have difficulty navigating the station, according to NR, causing large congestion around steep and narrow stairwells.

The narrow Platform 5 and 6 were also highlighted as a cause for concern. Trains frequently occupy, arrive and depart both platforms by busy Virgin Trains, TransPennine Express services causing major bottlenecks around the stair. According to the report, one solution could split platform 5 and 6 duties and pave the way for the re-opening of the redundant Platform 7.

Paul Plumber, from Network Rail, said: “As more and more people choose to travel by rail, it’s vital that passenger congestion is tackled or some stations risk becoming victims of their own success.”

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: “Train companies recognise that passengers do not want to travel through very busy stations, and are working with NR, which owns the train stations in Britain, to reduce congestion as much as possible.

It added: “As NR’s report identifies, millions are to be invested at key stations to fund improvements including bigger concourses and longer platforms.

“In addition, train companies continue to work hard to relieve congestion at the stations they manage, according to passenger needs and local circumstances.”

Do you use Preston train station? What do you think about the report’s findings? Let us know your views in the comments below

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