Passengers of Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern can expect to use more sustainable and environmentally friendly stations when they resume regular rail travel, thanks to projects funded by parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
Customers at more than 50 stations, from Littleport in Cambridgeshire to Bognor Regis in West Sussex and Appledore in Kent, will see new features including improved cycle parking, electric vehicle charging points, water management systems, and even bee gardens.
GTR is encouraging more passengers to pedal between home and station by installing over 1,000 new cycle parking spaces. A further 250 spaces have been replaced by securer, better sheltered modern facilities. The provision at these stations varies widely according to demand. While some quieter stations have just four or six new spaces, the £5.7 million expansion of St Albans station includes a massive 223 spaces, with CCTV extended to cover all existing parking.
Elstree & Borehamwood’s new bike hub has two-tier storage for 100 bikes, CCTV, a maintenance area and free access using Thameslink’s ‘Key’ smartcard. The new 18-space bike shelters at New Southgate and Watton-at-Stone are especially environmentally friendly. Each has a solar panel on its roof that powers the shelter’s security lighting.
GTR has funded most of the projects through its network-wide, multimillion-pound improvement programme. Facilities at ten stations were funded by the Department for Transport’s cycle-rail fund, managed by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans. These include some of the larger cycle hubs, such as at Elstree & Borehamwood, Leagrave (32 spaces) and Luton (74) which were further supported by the local councils.
The government fund aims to improve cycling facilities at stations, promote economic growth, improve journeys, and encourage environmentally-friendly ‘active travel’ to cut carbon and improve health.
Tom Moran, Managing Director for Great Northern and Thameslink, said: “We’re making stations more sustainable, valuable assets for the communities they serve, with improvements local people have told us they want.
“We’ve added over 1,000 secure spaces for bikes – enough for every competitor in five Tours de France! We’re confident that this will encourage even more customers to take up healthy travel that’s good for the environment.”
To further support sustainable transport combinations, GTR have installed 39 new electric vehicle charging points at stations. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps opened Hatfield station’s charging hub last September. With 27 points, this is believed to be the largest charging hub on the UK rail network.
All 235 GTR stations now have a smart water meter. Constant monitoring and leak alerts could save an estimated 40 million litres a year.
Among more than 90 landscaping projects in GTR’s programme are the ‘re-wilding’ of nine areas with wildflower turf – another water-saving measure – and 19 ‘bee gardens’, with plants chosen to attract pollinating insects. Most have been created by the Eastern and London regional branches of the community and environmental charity Groundwork Trust.