IMPROVED disabled access, a lick of paint and an improved pedestrian environment have been identified as achievable upgrades for Stonehaven’s train station.
These suggested quick fixes were some of the suggestions made at a stakeholder workshop held earler this month, looking at Stonehaven’s railway station.
Scotrail are obliged to produce improvement plans for stations in its franchise. These are called Station Travel Plans and highlight issues such as access to and from the station, gaps in transport needs and each station’s facilities and services.
The Station Travel Plan would also look at developing a framework to bring about the needed changes.
In 2017-18, some 522,890 passengers made use of Stonehaven station. To represent their interests, members of both Aberdeenshire Council and Stonehaven Community Council attended the workshop.
What follows, is an extract from the minutes of the workshop, provided by Ian Hunter of Stonehaven Community Council
Initial Group Discussions
- Access between platforms and from Platform 2 is an issue, especially for users with mobility/visual impairments
- There is a missing link between the station access road and the immediate streets in terms of the absence of inclusive mobility provision, such as tactile paving, bell mouth junctions with long crossing points, limited visibility from parked vehicles obstructing sightlines, and low street lighting
- Clear signage or alternative options from the town to the station would help
- Not many places on train for cycles – noted as an issue
- Electric bikes on trains – these are currently not permitted on trains. Could easily cycle to Dunnotar Castle using an e-bike
- On the proposed measure for introducing e-bike hire scheme in Stonehaven it was suggested that we should speak to Chris Menzies, who is working on something similar for the Formartine – Buchan Way
- Pedestrian safety from main road also an issue due to two-way traffic from both exits. Road layout doesn’t enforce modal hierarchy. Need to enforce one-way to reduce conflict between users.
- Front of station seen as poor interface for pedestrians.
- Look at limit of adoption and ownership plans of this area to determine who controls what land
- Nestrans have done parking studies recently – car park full to bursting at Stonehaven. Large catchment area using the station (Deeside, etc) as it is easier than driving into Aberdeen
- Council own the big one at the back and the smaller one in front is Scotrail – free parking. Public parking, not just rail users
Station Area and Facilities
- Issues with maintenance, bushes overgrown, fingerposts overgrown,
- Local councillors were meeting with ScotRail to discuss these issues prior to the workshop, and will work with them to improve things
- NR will be looking at light splay and improving. Bulbs replaced through council routes.
- Effort should be made to improve the appearance and first impression of the station
- When using the ticket machine in the shelter on Platform 2, people queuing often queue down the steps to the underpass which can create a hazard
- The door to the ticket machine shelter is stiff door and can be difficult to open for all users – a power assisted option should be considered
- It was noted by Sandy Macauley that there are proposals to upgrade the shelter facilities at Montrose so the STP evidence should feed in to that
- Issues with lighting at the station and on access routes creates issues for all users, not just those with visual impairments, so should be significantly improved
- Carpet in the underpass is detrimental to visual amenity and also creates trip/slip hazard in wet conditions, especially is passengers are rushing between platforms to buy tickets
- Bus stop to the front of the station is not visible or signposted from the station
- New 747 from the airport – goes to the town not to station – could this be extended?
- Low bridge limits the type of bus that can serve the station, so double deckers have to use an alternative route. This has a detrimental effect on the number of services stopping near the station
- The main reason for reduced footfall at Stonehaven is downturn with the oil. This is reflected in the ticket sails
- AWPR could cause further decrease due to similar journey time between Stonehaven and Aberdeen by rail and car
- Long gap between northbound services during the morning is likely to be causing intensive periods of arrival at the station, including parking and drop offs which create a crowded and potentially unsafe environment. More frequent morning services would help to spread the patronage across the morning peak
- There is a feeling that the interchange experience at Montrose for passengers travelling south from Stonehaven is poor. This is something that is being looked at as part of the STP for Montrose
- Encouraging tourism – not making it easy for the tourist, with through-running trains. Go into Aberdeen or Montrose. Not a continuous direct service from Stonehaven.
- People often hire a car, particularly from airport, and do a loop around north-east
- Left luggage lockers should be considered at the station for tourists visiting the town
- There are potential funding options through Smarter Choices Smarter Places for delivering some of the softer measures of the action plan
- Better information provision – particularly online – should be provided to ensure potential visitors know how to get to and from the station. This can be often be more important than the station itself when deciding whether or not to take the train somewhere
STP Drivers and Objectives
The STP drivers agreed upon were:
- The Revolution in Rail service enhancements
- Promoting tourism in Stonehaven
- Active travel routes (NCN 1)
- Step-free access issues
The objectives agreed upon were:
- Maximise the potential for recovery of sustained growth in patronage through service enhancements
- Promote walking and cycling as modes of travel to the station and for all trips in the area and enhance links with NCN1
- Support growth in rail-led tourism in the area linked to key local attractors
- Explore options to improve step-free access at the station
- Manage car parking issues (capacity, enforcement)
- Address maintenance, security and lighting issues at and around the station
Suggested Quick Wins
In addition to the quick wins in the workshop presentation, the following quick wins were suggested:
- Determine ownership/control/responsibilities of land immediately outside front of the station as a first step towards improving the pedestrian environment and reducing car dominance
- Road markings indicating pedestrian routes from car park/approach streets to station access could offer a solution to pedestrian/car conflict
- Re-painting of the station as part of 2019 re-painting cycle
- Improvements to disabled access, such as tactile paving and clearer markings, which will benefit all users
- Opportunity for station adoption activities (tying in with Horizon’s work) to aid the removal of vegetation around the station site