Best and Worst Major Interchange Stations

Grecian 1998

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Which major interchange stations do you find easiest and most difficult to use?

Whilst there is a degree of 'if it quacks like a duck' with major interchanges I'd generally say they should a) have at least 4 platforms and b) are the most practical junction of 2 or more lines e.g. whilst St Denys and Severn Tunnel Junction have lines dividing and 4 platforms, they wouldn't count, as Southampton Central and Newport are the effective interchange stations for those routes. I'm also looking purely at interchange between National Rail services, so interchanges with bus, tram or underground networks can be ignored.

I find (and I'm aware others may have different priorities) that the most useful factors about an interchange in order are the availability of information, ease of getting around the station, ease of finding / working out what's going on during disruption and the facilities.

In terms of best interchanges, there are a lot of stations I find very easy to use - Sheffield, Derby, Manchester Piccadilly (admittedly I rarely have to run the platform 13-14 gauntlet), Nottingham and Cardiff Central spring to mind. All have fairly clear information available and it isn't hard to find my way around. Admittedly in the case of Manchester Piccadilly, terminal stations have the advantage that everything you need to know is available on the concourse. Exeter St Davids also seems easy to navigate although I've used it so often over the years it's difficult to be objective about it.

For worst interchanges it may seem tedious and predictable to name Birmingham New Street. Which I'm going to do anyway. The A end footbridge is useless for getting around the station if you don't want to manoeuvre repeatedly through ticket barriers. The low ceilings and walls everywhere make it difficult to see what's going on if there's disruption. The narrow platforms are difficult to navigate when it's busy (not exactly uncommon). As for the air quality? If you have time, wander into the open air at the end of the platforms, then back into the main station and you can really appreciate the pollutants.

As for other interchange stations, Gatwick Airport is pretty lousy. Dark, cramped (although this is probably inevitable) and footbridges that don't serve all platforms. I find it difficult to use as an experienced rail user; I can't imagine what first-time visitors to the UK make of it. Newport also deserves a mention for the rebuild that plonked the footbridge at the far end of the station to where most services stop, increasing interchange time.
 
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lxfe_mxtterz

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Which major interchange stations do you find easiest and most difficult to use?
Birmingham New Street - enough said. ;) Have missed countless trains there as a result of getting lost in the unnecessarily confusing layout paired with the confusion of platforms A/B...

Wolverhampton also caught me out the first time I used the station. I needed to get to Platform 4, so ended up using the footbridge right by the concourse, got to the end and realised the thing didn't even reach Platform 4(!) - so it was back down the stairs, all the way along the platform and onto a different, newer footbridge to make the transfer over.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Don't find Leeds all that easy a station to interchange at, particularly if your onward train is from platform 16.
 

The Planner

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I will ask as I always do, what else could you do at New St, where is the room to widen the platforms, if you take the roof off, where will the circulation areas etc be? the "oh but NR were offered to build under Bullring" is the biggest red herring ever.
 

Ken H

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Shipley. dreadful place to change when its wet. Some long walks between platforms. Quite nice on a sunny day though. No catering outlet.
York and Carlisle. Both lovely stations to use.
 

DB

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Don't find Leeds all that easy a station to interchange at, particularly if your onward train is from platform 16.

The main problem with Leeds is trying to get from the low-numbered bay platforms to the other platforms (7/8 especially) as it requires crossing the flow through the main ticket barriers. That said, it's a bit better since they've widened and straightened the gateline, and moved it back a bit.
 

gordonthemoron

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All UK ones are rubbish, as is Munich HBF which is far too big, Cologne HBF, Brussel Zuid and Berlin HBF are reasonable. Basically any terminating station, of which the UK has loads, is difficult
 

Grecian 1998

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I will ask as I always do, what else could you do at New St, where is the room to widen the platforms, if you take the roof off, where will the circulation areas etc be? the "oh but NR were offered to build under Bullring" is the biggest red herring ever.

I can't see that anything can be done at New St. - it is very much constrained by its location. Gatwick Airport station has the same problem to a lesser extent. However it is still an unpleasant place to change trains.

If railways and this forum are still around in 2121 or even 3021, I'm sure people will still be complaining about New St. being unfit for purpose then...
 

Ken H

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The main problem with Leeds is trying to get from the low-numbered bay platforms to the other platforms (7/8 especially) as it requires crossing the flow through the main ticket barriers. That said, it's a bit better since they've widened and straightened the gateline, and moved it back a bit.
Leeds needs a footbridge alongside the south end of the main trainshed, to take foot traffic away from the barrier line. Be a nice place to watch the world go by too!
 

miklcct

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All UK ones are rubbish, as is Munich HBF which is far too big, Cologne HBF, Brussel Zuid and Berlin HBF are reasonable. Basically any terminating station, of which the UK has loads, is difficult
I have interchanged only at Southampton Central and it is far from rubbish. The only fault of that station is the A/B placement.
 

HughT

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Can I recommend Peterborough. Whilst it only has one footbridge, it retains a ramp at the north end, ideal for trollies. Or for people without trollies alighting from/boarding at the cheaper end of the train...

Cambridge is shocking. The only footbridge - provided just a few years ago when the island platforms were added - is at the north end. If you need to connect from the island platforms to platforms 1-3 at the south end of the original station, it's a fair old hike.
 

Neptune

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Shipley. dreadful place to change when its wet. Some long walks between platforms. Quite nice on a sunny day though. No catering outlet.
York and Carlisle. Both lovely stations to use.
There’s a coffee shop in the booking hall open in the morning. It does hot and cold drinks, bacon butties and snacks etc… Think it closes early afternoon. Not exactly Huddersfield buffet but reasonably priced and decent enough. Shipley’s not too bad if changing from say platform 5 to platform 2 but if you’re changing from platform 4 to platform 1 it‘s an awfully long walk with 2 footbridges. Try explaining how to connect to someone not familiar with the station between those 2 platforms!
 

Ken H

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There’s a coffee shop in the booking hall open in the morning. It does hot and cold drinks, bacon butties and snacks etc… Think it closes early afternoon. Not exactly Huddersfield buffet but reasonably priced and decent enough. Shipley’s not too bad if changing from say platform 5 to platform 2 but if you’re changing from platform 4 to platform 1 it‘s an awfully long walk with 2 footbridges. Try explaining how to connect to someone not familiar with the station between those 2 platforms!
Mea culpa. I havent been there in the morning.
 

DB

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It’s shuttered over when it’s closed so you wouldn’t know it existed.

It's been shut every time I've changed there in the past year (which has been in the morning sometimes) - has it recently reopened?
 

Neptune

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It's been shut every time I've changed there in the past year (which has been in the morning sometimes) - has it recently reopened?
It did close for COVID but no idea if it’s since reopened to be honest (not been in Shipley station in ages). I hope it does reopen if it hasn’t already as it’s a useful little shop to pop into for a brew.
 

Ken H

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Actually I had a horrid change once when travelling from newport to Brum. No direct train (It was early '80's) We just missed the connection at Bristol Parkway. Long Long wait in the middle of a car park.
 

delt1c

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Haymarket must rank as one of the best especially if coming from the WCML
 

XAM2175

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All UK ones are rubbish, as is Munich HBF which is far too big, Cologne HBF, Brussel Zuid and Berlin HBF are reasonable. Basically any terminating station, of which the UK has loads, is difficult
They can be helped by having more than one connection between platforms, but sadly this isn't very common.
 

DerekC

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The rebuilt Reading isn't bad at all. The general lightness and airiness are great. My only complaints are that there is nowhere to sit on the concourse bridge whilst you are waiting for your train to go up on the screen. Of course there is Real Time Trains, but there are occasional last minute changes. Oh, and the toilets are tucked away on Platform 7.
 

Nova1

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Not actually an interchange station - but a lot of people make the connection between Birmingham Moor Street and Birmingham New Street (and a lot will make the connection between Birmingham Curzon Street once it's complete)

Your options are either a fairly ok walk through the bullring shopping centre when it is open, or otherwise you've got to walk through a fairly dingy tunnel with poor lighting, very dirty and lots of vagrants. Always puts me off making the connection early in the morning or late at night.

Council promised to redo the tunnel after the New Street redevelopments, it never happened though.
 

norbitonflyer

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Newark Northgate technically doesn't qualify in this discussion because it only has three platforms (although as some changes are made by walking between there and Castle station maybe it counts as five). Either way, partly because it only has three platforms, limiting the number of trains that6 can serve the branch, Northgate has very poor facilities given the number of interchange passengers it has had to handle. This has not been helped by successive operators, all the way back to British Rail days, seeing timekeeping (of both the branch and main line services) as more important than honouring connections - many times I have seen the branch train receding into the distance as I crossed the footbridge, or had main line trains' doors closed in the faces of passengers disgorging from a 153.
Fortunately, and very belatedly, the lengthy sojourns at Newark are much less common because a 2-hourly direct Lincoln to London service was introduced in 2019 - forty years after such services were withdrawn and eight years after DfT, in the form of DOR, gave itself permission to renege on a franchise commitment despite not having given National Express that option.
 

Senex

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Hard to think of any really easy major interchange stations in this country mainly because in so many cases there's only one cross-platform/bridge/subway between platforms. The stations I personally most dislike changin at are Birmingham New Street, Leeds, and Sheffield — the latter not because it's too big or physically difficult, but because too often you can't hear announcements clearly because of the noise of idling diesel engines, something that is particuarly irritating when they make last-minute platform changes.
 

SteveM70

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If you mean interchange in the wider sense, Bradford Interchange is pretty rubbish these days.
 

AndyMike

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Another vote for New Street as the worst. It annoys me more since the redevelopment than it did before, somehow; I certainly find it less user-friendly. Peterborough gets a black mark for not having any platform info displayed in the overpass. And both Cambridge and Retford share the problem of potential walks between platforms being a rush when making certain connections.

Better ones? I use Sheffield as my terminus, but it always strikes me as one of the easier interchanges.
 

mrcheek

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New Street easily the worst.

I dont mind Leeds as a place to change trains. Though if you have to enter or leave the station its much more awkward.

Bristol Temple Meads is pretty good, although some better retail offering would be nice.
 

Legolash2o

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Hull is my favourite. It's very easy to get around without any stairs or lifts. Finding the platform is also easy to figure out because of where they have their screens.

Only downside is the two narrow gateways to the platforms.

Worst one that I remember is Doncaster purely because of platform 0 that has multiple stairs and what feels like a few miles walk.
 
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S&CLER

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Preston isn't too bad, but the stairs to the footbridge are narrow. It's a longish walk from 3C, but that will be filled in to extend the main island, and the new platform 0 on the old parcels island will be an even longer walk away. It's not strictly within the terms set by the OP, but I find the interchange with the X2 bus to Southport from the Fishergate Hill stop just outside the station front to be very convenient (much more so than when the stop was outside the HSBC further up the street). I have made that connection in less than 4 minutes.
My own pet hate is changing stations at Wigan. It would be a help if each station had a departure indicator for the other. Then you would know if you needed to run or could take your time.
 

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