Best and Worst Major Interchange Stations

xotGD

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They would read the signs pointing to other platforms and pass the gateline, as you do when changing trains at e.g. Manchester Piccadilly. Or if confused they would ask the staff on the gateline.
Why would I pass a gateline to change platforms at Manchester Piccadilly? There is a footbridge connecting the platforms. For some reason the station designers decided not to install a glass wall half way along it, so you actually can reach your desired platform.

Also, the bridge provides access to seats, toilets and coffee if you have a bit of time to fester.
 
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Dr Hoo

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Why would I pass a gateline to change platforms at Manchester Piccadilly? There is a footbridge connecting the platforms. For some reason the station designers decided not to install a glass wall half way along it, so you actually can reach your desired platform.

Also, the bridge provides access to seats, toilets and coffee if you have a bit of time to fester.
The bridge is fine for changes from P1-3 to P13/14 and I often use it when travelling to and from the Hope Valley. This includes using the 'lounge' facilities. It's quite like the 'B'/Red Lounge arrangement at Birmingham New Street. :)

But it is rather less user-friendly if you are making a connection with another service in the main shed (which are only hourly to many destinations). The information screens in the satellite lounge aren't really geared up for that and I find it awkward to 'double back'. Most platforms in the main shed don't have lift/escalator/travolator access to the bridge either. (It is much worse than New Street in that respect.)

So, it's often much more attractive to interchange on the flat, via the barriers (twice) and take advantage of the wider range of facilities on the main concourse during the 'fester'.

(Thanks to this thread I realise that some passengers are burdened with conditions that render them virtually unable to negotiate ticket barriers or pass retail establishments and they have my sympathy.)
 

Bletchleyite

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Why would I pass a gateline to change platforms at Manchester Piccadilly?

Because it's a heck of a lot less effort to wander around the station on the flat (if not going to 13/14) than it is to go up stairs, along a narrow footbridge and back down stairs. Most people who don't use 13/14 most probably don't even know it is there. If I was going from Avanti to Northern/TPE or vice versa, I would absolutely go via the main concourse, usually also visiting somewhere there to grab refreshments on the way.

(Thanks to this thread I realise that some passengers are burdened with conditions that render them virtually unable to negotiate ticket barriers or pass retail establishments and they have my sympathy.)

It does seem so, doesn't it? The luggage argument gets trotted out, but it's much easier to pass a barrier with luggage than to lug it up the stairs and back down again.

One thing I've picked up over the years (see Blackpool North) is that there seem to be some enthusiasts who strongly resent having their ticket checked. Why that is I have no idea.
 

Mikey C

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Waterloo to Waterloo East is pretty awful, especially considering the number of people making the change and the crowd of people milling about at the top of the ramps down to the Waterloo East platforms, wondering which platform their train is going from.
That interchange has never struck me as that bad, especially with the rebuild meaning that you no longer have to cross that service road. It's well signposted from the main concourse

I'm not sure that many people actually change from the mainline to East anyway (as opposed to people entering Waterloo East via the main station).
 

Dr Hoo

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That interchange has never struck me as that bad, especially with the rebuild meaning that you no longer have to cross that service road. It's well signposted from the main concourse

I'm not sure that many people actually change from the mainline to East anyway (as opposed to people entering Waterloo East via the main station).
I suppose that things are a lot less frantic these days. With the rise of Docklands employment, Thameslink, the DLR, Jubilee Line and HS1 the Southeastern side is very different.

Nearly 40 years ago I went to work on the South Western Division whilst still living on the South Eastern Division so used it a lot!

Long-forgotten flows would include things like SE-Waterloo-Feltham for bus to Heathrow and Navy traffic between Chatham and Portsmouth.
 

yorksrob

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Yes, I've never had a problem with interchanging from Waterloo East to Main and visa versa. Very good set up IMO.
 

DynamicSpirit

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No amount of simple contradiction will alter that it is an awful interchange, possible UK worst.

Worst interchange in the UK? I could certainly believe, most confusing in the UK - and I do think the new station is very badly designed. But I'd expect the worst interchange to be somewhere that has a dingy concourse, few or no staff, maybe feels unsafe, has lots of stairs with no lift available for people with luggage or mobility difficulties, no food outlets or toilet facilities, maybe you have to walk miles, etc. I don't think most of those apply to New Street.
 

NewClee153

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Well, I had to go through two sets of barriers in the new New Street - something I never had to do in the old one.
If you have to use two sets of barriers at New Street, you’ve gotten lost somewhere.


As a consistent and persistent lover of Birmingham New Street you are in a small minority. Reflect on why others think differently. (They might not all be wrong!)
I, for one, have never found it confusing, I’ve always found it very straightforward personally, trains and announcers all say to use the B end if you’re changing trains

I'm surprised no-one's mentioned London Euston as the worst major interchange, the walk from the platform to the concourse takes an absolute age, you often have to wait till a few minutes before departure for the boarding platform, and when you do, there’s a mad rush to get to the platform to ensure you actually get a seat, also, I feel like it’s been under construction forever, what are they actually changing in the station?

As for the best, for me, it’s a tie between Glasgow Queen St and Haymarket
 
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DynamicSpirit

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That interchange has never struck me as that bad, especially with the rebuild meaning that you no longer have to cross that service road. It's well signposted from the main concourse

I guess the Waterloo-Waterloo East interchange is good in terms of being well signposted and not requiring stairs, but it's bad to the extent that you arrive at Waterloo East in what is basically a not-very-pleasant corridor, and a few people stopping to look at the departure boards practically blocks it. Quite a fair walk too, along a passageway with windows that look like they were last cleaned in the 1930s (unless someone has done them very recently).

I don't recall ever having to cross a service road though (and I used that interchange a lot during the period before the recent Waterloo rebuild). Where/when did you have to do that?

If you have to use two sets of barriers at New Street, you’ve gotten lost somewhere.

Well possibly. But isn't the point that it seems remarkably easy for people to get lost at New Street - and that suggests a poor design (and getting back onto thread topic, a poor interchange).

I'm surprised no-one's mentioned London Euston as the worst major interchange, the walk from the platform to the concourse takes an absolute age, you often have to wait till a few minutes before departure for the boarding platform, and when you do, there’s a mad rush to get to the platform to ensure you actually get a seat, also, I feel like it’s been under construction forever, what are they actually changing in the station?

That may be because very few people are likely to interchange there. It's only really going to be people who come in from stations to Watford wanting to get a long-distance train. Agreed it's a pretty unpleasant station to catch an Avanti train in though.
 

yorksrob

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I'm surprised no-one's mentioned London Euston as the worst major interchange, the walk from the platform to the concourse takes an absolute age, you often have to wait till a few minutes before departure for the boarding platform, and when you do, there’s a mad rush to get to the platform to ensure you actually get a seat, also, I feel like it’s been under construction forever, what are they actually changing in the station?

I find it quite straight forward, personally.
 

NewClee153

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I guess the Waterloo-Waterloo East interchange is good in terms of being well signposted and not requiring stairs, but it's bad to the extent that you arrive at Waterloo East in what is basically a not-very-pleasant corridor, and a few people stopping to look at the departure boards practically blocks it. Quite a fair walk too, along a passageway with windows that look like they were last cleaned in the 1930s (unless someone has done them very recently).

I don't recall ever having to cross a service road though (and I used that interchange a lot during the period before the recent Waterloo rebuild). Where/when did you have to do that?



Well possibly. But isn't the point that it seems remarkably easy for people to get lost at New Street - and that suggests a poor design (and getting back onto thread topic, a poor interchange).



That may be because very few people are likely to interchange there. It's only really going to be people who come in from stations to Watford wanting to get a long-distance train. Agreed it's a pretty unpleasant station to catch an Avanti train in though.
I was replying to the comment that was quoted, that was the point I was talking about


I find it quite straight forward, personally.
I guess it’s not particularly complicated to use, it’s more of an arduous task to use the station, which you would hope would be simpler, given its location
 

Statto

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Speaking of Waterloo, that's a dreadful station to interchange from, i lost my way to the where the buses stop outside the station last Wednesday looking for where the 139 stops from the main concourse
 

Ken H

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Speaking of Waterloo, that's a dreadful station to interchange from, i lost my way to the where the buses stop outside the station last Wednesday looking for where the 139 stops from the main concourse
maybe they should put the connection back in whereby trains could get from 'main line' waterloo to waterloo east to carry on to cannon street or london Bridge!
 

Bevan Price

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Because it's a heck of a lot less effort to wander around the station on the flat (if not going to 13/14) than it is to go up stairs, along a narrow footbridge and back down stairs. Most people who don't use 13/14 most probably don't even know it is there. If I was going from Avanti to Northern/TPE or vice versa, I would absolutely go via the main concourse, usually also visiting somewhere there to grab refreshments on the way.



It does seem so, doesn't it? The luggage argument gets trotted out, but it's much easier to pass a barrier with luggage than to lug it up the stairs and back down again.

One thing I've picked up over the years (see Blackpool North) is that there seem to be some enthusiasts who strongly resent having their ticket checked. Why that is I have no idea.
Some of us have no objection to having our tickets checked. It is just that we would rather have it checked by a person, not some device that we cannot trust to recognise our ticket and then leaving us to wait for someone to come and open the barrier.
 

ashkeba

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Honestly! I am starting to think that some people have never actually been to the current New Street.

From any reasonable civic design perspective the current access between the concourse/A end and the Bull Ring is the principal 'gateway' to the station. Significant effort and expense was devoted to bridging over a further part of the tracks to produce a piazza that leads directly to one of the main entrances to the Bull Ring. (It also provides access to the All Bar One that some people seem unable to find.)
I have ben to the new New Street but not recently of course. Maybe I am unusual but all my business has been in the business district so I have walked down the hill across New Street and entered by the tram stops (when building works allowed). What proportion of station users enter from the shopping centre?

Even if you are correct, that still seems like a shopping-led plan. Surely some way could have been found to ramp/steps/escalater/lift shoppers to the upper floor and leave the A bridge undivided. It just seems so obvious that crossbridges are vital to the station intuitivity and breaking them up will be confusing.

"Connecting trains" signs like @Bletchleyite suggests would help. I have not heard the on-train "use the B end" announcements others mention but if they are used now then that also suggests the station signs are inadequate.

It is better than the old dingy station in many ways but not as an interchange.
 

Bletchleyite

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I'm surprised no-one's mentioned London Euston as the worst major interchange, the walk from the platform to the concourse takes an absolute age, you often have to wait till a few minutes before departure for the boarding platform, and when you do, there’s a mad rush to get to the platform to ensure you actually get a seat, also, I feel like it’s been under construction forever, what are they actually changing in the station?

Unless you count the Tube Euston isn't really an interchange, hardly anyone will change there. A few double-backs to Watford Junction now it has a poor direct Avanti service (though some will change at MKC as it's slightly cheaper), a very small number onto LO and that'll be your lot.

Edit: according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euston_railway_station it's about 10%, about 45 million entries/exits and 4.5 million interchanges, but I don't know how that is worked out, does it perhaps I wonder include everyone arriving on a cross-London through ticket? New St has about the same entries/exits but about 7 million interchanges, heading towards twice as many. Actually surprised it's that low for New St, though I suppose split tickets might have an effect. Crewe is about 1/3 interchanges.

New St really isn't a bad station at all. I think it is a quite pleasant place to change compared to what it was, though admittedly I'm familiar with it so it doesn't confuse me. As I mentioned I'll often deliberately use the A end to change as the bogs are quiet and I'll often want to pop out for a coffee or similar anyway.

I'm struggling to think of a really bad one these days to be honest. Crewe perhaps? The facilities are very poor indeed and it's freezing cold in winter. Preston can be similar but at least the high, old style trainshed is atmospheric. Or Manchester Victoria, which is a dump?
 
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yorksrob

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I'm struggling to think of a really bad one these days to be honest. Crewe perhaps? The facilities are very poor indeed and it's freezing cold in winter. Preston can be similar but at least the high, old style trainshed is atmospheric. Or Manchester Victoria, which is a dump?

I like Crewe. OK, as a lazy person, I'd appreciate escallators, but other than that it works well.
 

Bletchleyite

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I like Crewe. OK, as a lazy person, I'd appreciate escallators, but other than that it works well.

It's practical, but it's really cold in winter and the facilities are very poor for a major interchange, just a couple of very small shops, Upper Crust/Ritazza and a fairly lousy pub with irritatingly short opening hours. Mind you they're better than Preston's retail facilities which barely exist at all, I think it's just two small shops and the (not much better) pub? Used to have a Burger King too but that's long gone.
 

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I guess the Waterloo-Waterloo East interchange is good in terms of being well signposted and not requiring stairs, but it's bad to the extent that you arrive at Waterloo East in what is basically a not-very-pleasant corridor, and a few people stopping to look at the departure boards practically blocks it. Quite a fair walk too, along a passageway with windows that look like they were last cleaned in the 1930s (unless someone has done them very recently).

I don't recall ever having to cross a service road though (and I used that interchange a lot during the period before the recent Waterloo rebuild). Where/when did you have to do that?
Until 1992, according to Wikipedia (so the windows in the current bridge are no older than that. Are they perhaps made of some kind of plastic that becomes opaque over time?). As far as I can remember, you used to walk through an archway from the main concourse, across the taxi road, along under a platform-type canopy where the connecting line used to run (does anyone know if there actually was a platform there?) and up a slope to the Waterloo East footbridge.
 

Kingston Dan

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That interchange has never struck me as that bad, especially with the rebuild meaning that you no longer have to cross that service road. It's well signposted from the main concourse

I'm not sure that many people actually change from the mainline to East anyway (as opposed to people entering Waterloo East via the main station).
Don't know about that. Pre covid I would always use Waterloo East if going to either London Bridge or Charing Cross/West End as you can do that journey for free on a London Terminals ticket/contactless. Changing to the tube incurs an additional single fare. Got the impression that quite a few others do the same...
 

Wolfie

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At busy times pre-pandemic, it never seemed to me as if Eurostar was over-provided for. The interior of the terminal was, if anything, far too small to cope comfortably - and the queueing area outside likewise. Must be very different now, I presume.
Absolutely.

I think they were an aborted attempt at something, e.g. possibly holding people away from the platforms as per Manc Picc P13/14 (i.e. "wait in X lounge"). They are not used on the PIS at all, so you can basically ignore them. Just follow conventional signs to numbered platforms.
The theory is that passengers spend as little time as possible on the platforms at Birmingham New Street (fumes etc) and when changing trains wait upstairs in the lounges.
 
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AlbertBeale

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Speaking of Waterloo, that's a dreadful station to interchange from, i lost my way to the where the buses stop outside the station last Wednesday looking for where the 139 stops from the main concourse

There are so many bus routes at Waterloo that even ones heading (initially) in the same direction are divided amongst multiple stops. The dozen or so routes going north over the bridge have several stops in the "bus station" by the roundabout, and a couple more on Waterloo Road outside the major station entrance there. And buses arriving from the same direction, if terminating at Waterloo, can drop you off at several different points around the station. It must be confusing for anyone not familiar with the area - and there aren't obvious (indeed any??) bus maps displayed on the station concourse to help you decide which way out of the station you need for the bus you want.
 

Purple Orange

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Best interchange:

It’s hard to pick one. Generally I find any large station in a town or city with just one station (York, Crewe, Reading, Preston) to be the better ones. It’s better where you don’t have to walk to a main concourse, figure out where you need to go and then walk back to the platforms.

All London Underground stations too, as long as you can follow signs.

I’d consider the Manchester stations, but as I know them all very well I’m not sure if my familiarity is what makes it easier rather than just the stations themselves being good to interchange at.

Worst interchange:

Cross Manchester transfers are a massive pain, usually involving a change from Victoria to Piccadilly.

I’ve never liked Clapham Junction or Sheffield Midland. New Street isn’t my favourite either.
 

XAM2175

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Some of us have no objection to having our tickets checked. It is just that we would rather have it checked by a person, not some device that we cannot trust to recognise our ticket and then leaving us to wait for someone to come and open the barrier.
I'll confess to having a faint fear that my ticket will be stolen by the gate, even when I know there's no reason for it.
 

yorksrob

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It's practical, but it's really cold in winter and the facilities are very poor for a major interchange, just a couple of very small shops, Upper Crust/Ritazza and a fairly lousy pub with irritatingly short opening hours. Mind you they're better than Preston's retail facilities which barely exist at all, I think it's just two small shops and the (not much better) pub? Used to have a Burger King too but that's long gone.

The pub could do with some improvement, but overall I find the station easy to negotiate and with a pleasant ambiance.

I'd actually say that Preston was better in terms of retail facilities, and it is itself pretty well placed for access to pubs and retail in the town.
 

Mikey C

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I guess the Waterloo-Waterloo East interchange is good in terms of being well signposted and not requiring stairs, but it's bad to the extent that you arrive at Waterloo East in what is basically a not-very-pleasant corridor, and a few people stopping to look at the departure boards practically blocks it. Quite a fair walk too, along a passageway with windows that look like they were last cleaned in the 1930s (unless someone has done them very recently).

I don't recall ever having to cross a service road though (and I used that interchange a lot during the period before the recent Waterloo rebuild). Where/when did you have to do that?
Until 1992, according to Wikipedia (so the windows in the current bridge are no older than that. Are they perhaps made of some kind of plastic that becomes opaque over time?). As far as I can remember, you used to walk through an archway from the main concourse, across the taxi road, along under a platform-type canopy where the connecting line used to run (does anyone know if there actually was a platform there?) and up a slope to the Waterloo East footbridge.
I hadn't realised it was so long ago :D

Yes, you used to go across that taxi road on the flat, whereas now you go over the top on a bridge


And then you would go across Waterloo Road on the lower level bridge, rather than the higher level "tube". That lower bridge (the original running line between the stations?) seems abandoned now

 

Mordac

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Tamworth is a very bad interchange station, due to the lack of facilities not just in the station, but anywhere near.
 

Statto

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There are so many bus routes at Waterloo that even ones heading (initially) in the same direction are divided amongst multiple stops. The dozen or so routes going north over the bridge have several stops in the "bus station" by the roundabout, and a couple more on Waterloo Road outside the major station entrance there. And buses arriving from the same direction, if terminating at Waterloo, can drop you off at several different points around the station. It must be confusing for anyone not familiar with the area - and there aren't obvious (indeed any??) bus maps displayed on the station concourse to help you decide which way out of the station you need for the bus you want.

That's defiantly true, there are no maps displayed on the concourse showing where the buses stop which is over a large area, you could end up at stops around the Waterloo East area then find you have to hike to the other end where bus station is or vice versa,, there's a small bus station, however not all the routes stop there, only some Northbound routes stop there, & a couple of routes stop on Cab Road (what i call the internal road) but no indication of that until you manage to find any maps showing this.
 

The exile

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I have ben to the new New Street but not recently of course. Maybe I am unusual but all my business has been in the business district so I have walked down the hill across New Street and entered by the tram stops (when building works allowed). What proportion of station users enter from the shopping centre?

Even if you are correct, that still seems like a shopping-led plan. Surely some way could have been found to ramp/steps/escalater/lift shoppers to the upper floor and leave the A bridge undivided. It just seems so obvious that crossbridges are vital to the station intuitivity and breaking them up will be confusing.

"Connecting trains" signs like @Bletchleyite suggests would help. I have not heard the on-train "use the B end" announcements others mention but if they are used now then that also suggests the station signs are inadequate.

It is better than the old dingy station in many ways but not as an interchange.
I’ve not been to the “new” New Street very often, but on every occasion where I have tried to interchange via the main concourse I have found the routing highly confusing, counter-intuitive and intimidating - especially when under time pressure. I have travelled extensively in Europe, including in countries where I have no knowledge of the language and have never had the same feeling that access to trains was being made as difficult as possible.
 

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