I’m always putting in the same picture of Zwickau Zentrum station on the Vogtlandbahn in Germany into posts, so I thought I should give the picture a post of its own.
The station is one of the simplest I’ve ever seen and it has been designed very much like a tram stop.
- There is no footbridge, as if travellers need to cross the line, they just walk round.
- The access is as step-free as it gets in Germany.
- The other side of the platform is a stop for Zwickau’s trams.
- There is no electrification, which must improve safety.
- The station could be made long enough for any train that might call.
- The station has been landscaped into the local environment.
But we’re starting to see simple stations like this in the UK.
Galashiels is an interesting solution, as there is a single-platform step-free railway station on one side of the road and a comprehensive bus interchange on the other with seats, cafes, shops and warm shelter.
Both Zwickau Zentrum and Galashiels are served exclusively by diesel trains and as electrification can be a hazard to some passengers and is expensive, I would feel that most stations like this, would be better served by trains that are self-powered.
We shall be seeing more simple station designs like these, as architects and designers get very innovative.
Lambeth North station has been given new lifts, a good clean and some repainting.
The only thing that hasn’t been updated are the adverts, which relate very much to films and concerts from when the station closed for the refurbishment.
I think that this facelift shows that unlike many buildings dating from the early twentieth century, it was well-designed and well-built. It’s certainly much better than the dreadful Essex Road station, which is near to where I live.
The extensions at both ends of the Midland Metro in Birmingham and Wolverhampton City Centres will be a first for the UK, in that they will be catenary-free and the trams will run on battery power.
This Google Map shows the area, where the initial extension will go in Birmingham City Centre.
Places of interest are.
- The cathedral is in the North-East corner.
- New Street station is in the South-East corner.
- Victoria Square and the Town Hall are just to the East of the middle.
- Centenary Square is towards the West side.
This description comes from this page on the Metro Alliance web site.
840m of twin track from Birmingham Grand Central at Stephenson Street, up Pinfold Street through Victoria Square, Paradise St, past Paradise Circus into Centenary Square at Broad St.There will be an intermediate stop outside the Town Hall in Victoria Square, and we will interface with the Navigation Street link.
One of the problems at the moment, is that the development of Paradise Birmingham, seems to sit in the middle of the route.
These pictures show the area of Victoria Square and the route up from New Street station.
- The steep hill of Pinfold Street.
- The route seemed to have been prepared ready for the track to be fitted into the road surface.
- Utilities seemed to have been moved.
- When I took the pictures, the Midland Metro had parked a tram at the limit of the current track at the bottom of Pinfold Street.
Climbing The Hill
You can’t accuse Birmingham of lacking ambition, as Pinfold Street is a proper hill.
- It is the only steep hill on the route to Centenary Square.
- The tram will start the ascent with full batteries.
- There will be no problems coming down.
- This extension is only 840 metres in length.
- The MetroCentro in Seville has used similar technology on a 1.4 km. route since 2007.
- CAF have technology that charges batteries fast.
- Battery technology has moved on in the last ten years.
If in practice, it does prove a difficult climb, overhead wires could be put on sufficient of the lower part of the up-track on Pinfold Street.
These wires wouldn’t be visible from Victoria Square, so wouldn’t effect the architectural integrity pf the area.
Onward to Edgbaston
According to this article in Rail Technology Magazine, the further four kilometre extension to Egbaston, is also intended to be catenary-free.
As the trams could be charged at Edgbaston, I think this could be possible.
But I doubt CAF would propose the use of batteries, if they hadn’t already proven the range, which is not outrageous.
The Next Step
I looked at a lot of the route of the first section to Victoria Square today, and it would appear that the roadway has been prepared for fitting the track.
So could we see an accelerated development of the first part of the extension?
It would be a good test of the technology, with little risk to the Midland Metrolink!
If the trams can’t make the hill on baqtteries, it would need to be wired, but you could always blame Spanish engineering.
It is a very well-designed scheme.
I wonder, if we’ll see Edinburgh batteries on their CAF trams?
Today, it certainly was finished, as the pictures show.
It certainly is a good mix of Ancient (Actually 1836!) and Modern!
I suspect a few decades ago, British Rail used to despair at the number of brick arches and bridges they were responsible for.
Now, they have realised that they are an asset to exploit!
I took these pictures as I walked through London Bridge station to the Underground.
I do like well-executed brickwork! I hope they don’t cover it with plaster or concrete.
I certainly don’t think they’re finished yet! The lights are for light rather than to a design that fits.
This set of brick arches will form a level passageway between the inner concourse of the station and the exits towards the City and the Underground.
London Bridge looks like it could take the mantle of London’s best railway station from Kings Cross.
So I went for a look.
- Lifts can probably be added easily to the existing bridge.
- Lifts are certainly needed, ss I saw a couple of mothers struggling with buggies.
- The station buildings on the platforms have potential for making really nice.
- The barrel roof is not to my taste, and I would rejoice if it had to be demolished for health and safety reasons.
- The station is a Grade II Listed building.
It is certainly an unusual station.
Farringdon Station is Grade II Listed and has a Victorian roof dating from 1865. The roof is not a grand but a very practical affair.
As the pictures show, it won a Railway Heritage Board Award in 2015.
I wonder if Barbican station had a similar roof, as you can still see the remains of crudely cut off trusses, not unlike the those remaining at Farringdon station.
If the Barbican station roof should ever be recreated, perhaps something like the one, I wrote about in The New Roof At Crystal Palace Station could be used.
The two stations could be a tribute to Ancient and Modern
Last week, I went to a consultation about the Draft Hackney Central And Surrounds Masterplan in the Narrow Way by HackneyCentral station.
If you want to see the full version of the masterplan it is available at www.hackney.gov.uk/spd.
As this article will be sent to the Council Planning Department, I’ll say a little bit about myself.
- Widowed, in my seventieth year and living alone.
- I’m coeliac, which I inherited from my father.
- I always describe my politics as left-wing Tory and very radical.
- As someone, who has helped create two high class technology businesses sold for millions of pounds, I’m very entrepreneurial.
- My father and three of my grandparents were all born within the triangle based on the Angel, Dalston Junction and Highbury Corner.
- My father was the least racist person, I’ve ever met. I hope his attitude has rubbed off on me!
- My two grandfathers were of part-Jewish and part-Huguenot ancestry respectively.
- As my two grandmothers families came from Northants and Devon, I usually describe myself as a London mongrel.
- My late wife and myself partly brought our three sons up in the Barbican.
- My middle son talks of that time in a tower block with affection, so I’m not against well-designed tower blocks.
After a stroke, left me unable to drive, I returned to my roots.
My Views On The Masterplan
I like lots of things about it. And especially these!
- The prominence given to new workspace, shops and the creation of jobs.
- The creation of new housing, where I’m only against bad tower blocks.
- The opening up of the railway viaduct, so it becomes a feature. Network Rail get a lot of stick, but they know how to look after railway brickwork.
- The creation of a public square at the bottom of the Narrow Way.
- The creation of more pedestrian streets.
- Better use of the bus garage site.
- Improvement of Bohemia Place.
It wouldn’t be me, to not put in my own wish list.
Truth be told, I don’t think Transport for London, thought the Overground would be the success, it has turned out to be. So the designers did the minimum they felt they could get away with and would satisfy their political masters!
But the London Overground’s success has been repeated in places like the Borders Railway, Electrification in Liverpool, new stations in Leeds and the Todmorden Curve, and it is now proven in the UK, that if you give the population a good train service, they’ll use it.
Now that the walkway has connected Hackney Central and Hackney Downs stations and other improvements to the complex are in the pipeline, I think that serious consideration should be given to creating a second entrance to Hackney Central from Graham Road.
Failing that, pedestrian routes should be improved, so that access to the cluster of buildings around the Town Hall and the Empire is easier.
Hackney Central As A Meeting Point
Once the public square is created at the bottom of the Narrow Way, use of the area as a meeting point should be encouraged.
- Hackney Central is where two rail lines cross.
- The London Overground through Hackney Downs gets new trains in 2018.
- There are several bus routes passing through the area.
- Bohemia Place and the railway arches must have potential for specialist shops and cafe/restaurants like Leon.
- Leon was started by a Hackney resident.
Who said it’s all about location?
Learning From Other Cities And Towns
I travel extensively, in the UK and Europe and see both good and bad examples of how to develop cities and towns.
Recently, I went to Blackburn and I was totally surprised at the transformation since I last visited a few years ago.
A Landscaped square had been created between the station and the cathedral.The square is surrounded by a PremierInn, a new office block, a small bus station on one side and a pedestrian way to a supermarket on the other.
Hackney could do similar or even better.
My uncle was a very good sculptor and I feel it is a crime that works of art like large bronzes are kept in store because security and insurance is a problem.
However, there are places where they could be placed with little fear of theft or damage. And that is at carefully selected locations on the platforms of railway stations.
So why not?
Hackney Downs certainly has space for one, but the platforms at Central are too narrow!
When I was on holiday in Iceland, every building with a historic connection, had full information displayed outside.
Is Hackney’s information up to scratch?
This is a series of pictures with comments.
Hackney Central has some interesting buildings on which to develop the area. Unfortunately, there is some bad examples of boring architecture.
Some sites definitely have potential.
- Could the top floors of the Iceland building, be converted into a Southern station entrance, with perhaps a cafe and a couple of shops that travellers like?
- Bohemia Place could be a nice oasis with cafes, workshops and individual shops, a bit like the Box Park at Shoreditch High Street station.
- Bohemia Place will be better, when the arches under the railway are opened up.
- The right architect could do a fine job on the M & S Building.
- The car park at Hackney Central station might be much better as a bus interchange.
In my view the key is Bohemia Place, as this could be a magnet for people of all ages, races and classes to come and shop and refresh themselves.
Manchester Oxford Road Station, is that rareanimal, a modern station with a Grade II Listing.
Probably, the most significant thing about the listing of Manchester Oxford Road station, is that there are few stations, built in the 1960s, worthy of any merit.
Looking at the station, I come to a few conclusions.
- It certainly isn’t fit for serving a 61,000-seater football stadium.
- The access to the platforms with staircases and no lifts or escalators is terrible and not much better than it was when I used it regularly in the early 1960s.
- The platforms look like, they might be able to handle a twelve-car train.
- The platforms are on top of what looks to be a solid well-built viaduct.
- Walking away from White Hart Lane towards the South, there would appear to be few important buildings alongside the viaduct.
I think this all leads to a unique situation you don’t often find in the rebuilding of a station. It would appear that if you clear the land on both sides of the railway along Penshurst Road and Love Lane, you can create a station that encloses the railway and gives access underneath. A similar situation was exploited at Haggerston and Hoxton stations to create very passenger-friendly stations.
This visualisation from the Architects Journal shows the station from the East.
I’ll repeat my nearest picture.
I think that it looks good.
Note that the rightmost arch, which is partially hidden in the second picture, is the rightmost arch in the visualisation.
If you look at the other pictures in the Architects Journal, it would appear that the two staircases go up in two sections to the platforms, in a similar way to they do in several of the Overeground’s rebuilt stations.
At least in common with London’s two other big club grounds at Arsenal and West Ham, White Hart Lane is served by several Underground and rail stations.
This station certainly, looks like it will handle its share.
I think there could be controversy, as there have been reports that Tottenham Hotspur would like to sell naming rights to the stadium and possibly the station, as other clubs have.
Renaming the stadium would probably not be controversial, but renaming the station could well be. It will certainly be expensive, as Transport for London would have to change a large quantity of maps.
As someone, who supports Ipswich, I don’t care.