Examples of other station improvements
Representatives from consultant Arup then described how rail stations can provide an important role for society: increasingly they offer a broader range of services beyond just allowing people to board and alight trains.
“At the heart of this are people and places,” explained the firm’s Transport Leader, Andrew Jenkins. “Stations of the future support inclusive growth, are at the centre of sustainable movement networks and help fulfil lives.”
He gave an example of a new parkway station proposed for Cardiff, Hendre Lakes, where a masterplan is being developed to help create a station that benefits the environment and local communities.
But while new stations can clearly be designed to meet modern needs, established stations once offered communities places to gather and enjoy company too. Arup’s Placemaking Leader, Edgar Kiviet showed a black and white photograph of Temple Meads in 1871 showing many people gathered to meet others. Large stations in Victorian times were often, he said, “social places and the ‘living rooms’ of cities where businesses met and where innovation happened”.
One wonders now whether an injection of innovative technology into Temple Meads this year could help to recreate the buzz around stations seen in yesteryear.
His presentation also featured plans to regenerate nearby Bristol Parkway station, which opened in 1969, and described how the Dutch city of Utrecht has transformed its central station into a public transport and active travel hub.
In summary they described the role of stations as not just transient spaces, but those that foster a sense of community.
Connected Places Catapult’s Living Labs Manager, Clemence Martin-Beaumont explained to delegates the programme’s aim of “creating a hub for developing, testing and demonstrating innovation safely, to improve the passenger experience and accelerate innovation in UK stations”.
She added that the Catapult develops testbeds to support partners and solution providers to de-risk innovation and enhance inclusive collaboration by trialling solutions in real-life settings with relevant users and stakeholders. Building on its experience in homes and urban environments, the Catapult aims to help to shape a sustainable testing approach in railways.
Accelerator Programme Manager Poppy Driver then welcomed each of the nine technology companies onto stage to outline their ideas and explain how their innovations work, before the event concluded with a reception overlooking the Bristol city skyline.
Read about the nine shortlisted companies in the Station Innovation Zone project in our brochure below.
The Station Innovation Zone now enters its second year, with its primary focus set to be on data sharing and digital innovation.