Dismal Stations Which Give A Poor First Impression Of The Town They Serve

Llandudno

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Enjoyable walk yesterday on the scenic Macclesfield canal with some pals and used two of the stations on the route, Kidsgrove and Congleton to access the canal.

Kidsgrove station is a quite a large grotty station, with four platforms and a run down, rusty footbridge to access three of the platforms, there doesn’t appear to be any step free access to those platforms. The entrance area to the station is scruffy and generally unloved, mind you Kidsgrove town centre didn’t look any better, so perhaps the station is in keeping with its surroundings, and as for the adjacent Railway pub…

Fast forward to Congleton, a well heeled Cheshire town and the area surrounding the station ‘Hightown’ is very smart with a fantastic pub opposite the station, Queens Head, excellent food and local ales…but Congleton station is a dump, a tiny concrete overhang for a waiting area, the station is dreary, paint peeling off all the buildings and the even the electronic PIS display wasn’t showing train departure information, and the electronic clock on the display unit was 20 minutes fast!

More alarming was the fact that the station footbridge from the ticket office (when open) and presumably the TVM was cordoned off and intending passengers had to retrace their steps to the main road and use the road bridge to access the UP platform. I timed it as 4 minutes to walk briskly to the UP platform, there are no signs at the station approach/entrance indicating that the footbridge was closed.

The railway is facing many challenges to encouraging passengers to return, but the likes of Kidsgrove and Congleton stations are not great adverts for using public transport.


Which other stations on our network give a very poor first impression and don’t due justice to the town they serve…?
 
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AlterEgo

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Sunderland. Okay, maybe not the most salubrious place in England, but it is a significant city which has a poor, two platform, underground hellhole of a station.
 

Bletchleyite

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Sunderland. Okay, maybe not the most salubrious place in England, but it is a significant city which has a poor, two platform, underground hellhole of a station.

Liverpool Central is pretty rubbish, though admittedly arrivals are mainly local and it's no worse than a random subsurface Tube station.

Manchester Victoria is utterly horrid, like a not-quite-as-underground New St. And the alternative, Picc P13/14, is not exactly better!
 

Aictos

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Luton should be a top contender but the main issue is the fact that most of the station is actually listed so they can't just rebuild it.
 

AlterEgo

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Liverpool Central is pretty rubbish, though admittedly arrivals are mainly local and it's no worse than a random subsurface Tube station.

Manchester Victoria is utterly horrid, like a not-quite-as-underground New St. And the alternative, Picc P13/14, is not exactly better!
Yes the Merseyrail stations tend to be depressing although I didn't count those as they only see suburban arrivals. Else you could make quite an argument for places in London like Essex Road and Limehouse.

Bradford Interchange is a dump; again the city itself isn't a jewel but the crappy feel of the station seriously disappoints; the square it opens onto has some lovely buildings.
 

Mcr Warrior

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No one mentioned Wakefield Kirkgate yet?

And that despite it not being quite as bad now as it was a decade or so ago!
 

43096

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Birmingham New Street. Although you might say it matches the city, the refurbishment of a few years ago proved that you can’t polish a t*rd.
 

BrianW

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Welcome to the 'public realm' of Great Britain, the fifth richest nation. It needs money and care to 'do something'. How high does 'scruffiness' etc rate in 'customer satisfaction' or 'the passenger experience. Quite low I imagine compared with frequency, reliability, fare and getting a seat? Paint and flowers are relatively cheap so readily 'doable'- so why are they not done?
 

JamesT

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Oxford station is decidedly underwhelming as an introduction to the city. Hopefully the full masterplan is eventually implemented to give something that can actually cope with the traffic it gets.
 

Ianno87

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Edinburgh. Not so much dismal (pretty if you look up), but a bit sprawling, disorganised and slightly chaoitic when busy.
 

sk688

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Before that abandoned post office building was knocked down the entrance to Bristol Temple Meads was pretty grim
Still not the greatest place to emerge from either , with a closed down Peugeot dealership and a long derelict hotel and petrol station nearby

They're slowly doing the area up tho to be fair
 

Cambus731

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Coventry and Harlow Town. And they look like they both came out of the same box. Coventry Station just seems like a larger version of Harlow.
 

py_megapixel

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The best example I can think of is not a railway station but a bus station* - Merrywalks in Stroud. The town is lovely, but the buses stop down quite a steep hill from it, what feels like round the back of a rather ugly shopping centre, and there's no covered waiting facilities at all despite the fact the buses are invariably late. In contrast the railway station at Stroud is lovely and fits well with the rest of the town. There are a large number of far worse bus stations in this country, but most of them seem to serve places which aren't that nice anyway in my opinion.

Other than that:

The underground section of Manchester Victoria is awful. It's dingy, run-down and the air feels clogged from all the fumes from diesel trains that should have been scrapped long ago. The bay platforms and the Metrolink section are actually quite nice, on the other hand.

I know moaning about Euston is a bit of a cliche, but I do feel that it doesn't to the city of London (small C) justice. It feels hard and cold, there's insufficient seating, and they commit the cardinal sin of not displaying platforms until just before departure.

Cheadle Hulme is a fairly upmarket suburb of Manchester, and while unremarkable there's nothing too objectionable about it. It's a nice enough place. Until a few years ago though the only real facilities at the station were a couple of falling apart wooden shelters, some slightly broken dot matrix screens and an ugly concrete ticket office located down a steep set of stairs and next to a busy road.

Blackpool North, enough said.

* I'm not sure it's technically counted as a bus station, but there was a 'proper' bus station around there a long time ago which is why I'm describing it as such.
 

S&CLER

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Oxford station is decidedly underwhelming as an introduction to the city. Hopefully the full masterplan is eventually implemented to give something that can actually cope with the traffic it gets.
You should have seen the old wooden horror that I had to use in 1967-70.
 

MikeWM

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Bradford Interchange is a dump; again the city itself isn't a jewel but the crappy feel of the station seriously disappoints; the square it opens onto has some lovely buildings.

I think Forster Square is even worse, or at least it was last time I visited, 3-4 years ago. Small and deeply unimpressive, and to exit the station you had to walk across a poorly-lit enclosed square, which I can imagine many people would be uncomfortable doing by themselves at night. (I'm not sure if that was permanent however or just due to building works at the time).
 

Journeyman

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Edinburgh. Not so much dismal (pretty if you look up), but a bit sprawling, disorganised and slightly chaoitic when busy.
It's certainly not very user-friendly, and its low level makes access tricky. It's improved a bit recently, though - the escalators on Waverley Steps made a big difference.
 

DB

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Chester. Station itself is fine, but the walk to the city centre is not exactly welcoming.

I think Forster Square is even worse, or at least it was last time I visited, 3-4 years ago. Small and deeply unimpressive, and to exit the station you had to walk across a poorly-lit enclosed square, which I can imagine many people would be uncomfortable doing by themselves at night. (I'm not sure if that was permanent however or just due to building works at the time).

Both Bradford stations are pretty grotty, but so is the city centre generally. It's generally a fairly creepy place later in the evening on a weekday - I can think of no other city of the size which is do deserted after about 11pm.
 

The exile

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Before that abandoned post office building was knocked down the entrance to Bristol Temple Meads was pretty grim
Still not the greatest place to emerge from either , with a closed down Peugeot dealership and a long derelict hotel and petrol station nearby

They're slowly doing the area up tho to be fair
To be fair on what is a rail infrastructure forum - almost all of the things you mention are / were outwith the railway’s control. The dismal bit about Temple Meads is its cramped entrance ( which should change in the not too distant future) - which was one of the few places you couldn’t see the hulk of a mail sorting office from!
 

urbophile

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Chester. Station itself is fine, but the walk to the city centre is not exactly welcoming.
The main buildings at Chester are fine, and there is nothing wrong with the surroundings although the city centre is a long walk or a bus ride away. But I don't like the rail side of the station: confusing layout and scruffy looking platforms. Arriving by Merseyrail you have to walk a fair way across a rather gloomy footbridge to get out.

Huddersfield is much the same: splendid building (one of the finest in the country) but grotty platforms and underpass.
 

MikeWM

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Both Bradford stations are pretty grotty, but so is the city centre generally. It's generally a fairly creepy place later in the evening on a weekday - I can think of no other city of the size which is do deserted after about 11pm.

I do recall having a surprising amount of trouble finding somewhere to get a decent takeaway in Bradford, pretty much every time I've stayed there.

Still, it does have a decent Premier Inn (usually with cheap rooms), Cineworld and the National Media Museum, so I'll be back :)
 

Ianno87

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Coventry and Harlow Town. And they look like they both came out of the same box. Coventry Station just seems like a larger version of Harlow.

The square in front of Coventry Station has changed quite radically over the last few years. The dreary office blocks that used to bridge the station approach have all gone, as have the subways to reach the city centre.
 

PR1Berske

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Chester is a lovely city which has a very problematic station. The layout is not great for passenger flow at all.

Bradford Interchange is another great shout. The centre is trying its best to be regenerated and the station has a lot of potential. It just has the feel of an abandoned 1980s arcade.

My ultimate winner has to be Manchester Victoria. The growth of the city, for residents and tourists /shoppers/drinkers, has not been matched by a dark, dingy, chaotic, sorry excuse of a "station"
 

MikeWM

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I’m glad it was kept open so I could say Plymouth.

I was going to say Plymouth, but then I recalled I'm not a big fan of Plymouth anyway, so in that respect the station accurately reflects my opinion of the place...
 

Class360/1

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Enjoyable walk yesterday on the scenic Macclesfield canal with some pals and used two of the stations on the route, Kidsgrove and Congleton to access the canal.

Kidsgrove station is a quite a large grotty station, with four platforms and a run down, rusty footbridge to access three of the platforms, there doesn’t appear to be any step free access to those platforms. The entrance area to the station is scruffy and generally unloved, mind you Kidsgrove town centre didn’t look any better, so perhaps the station is in keeping with its surroundings, and as for the adjacent Railway pub…

Fast forward to Congleton, a well heeled Cheshire town and the area surrounding the station ‘Hightown’ is very smart with a fantastic pub opposite the station, Queens Head, excellent food and local ales…but Congleton station is a dump, a tiny concrete overhang for a waiting area, the station is dreary, paint peeling off all the buildings and the even the electronic PIS display wasn’t showing train departure information, and the electronic clock on the display unit was 20 minutes fast!

More alarming was the fact that the station footbridge from the ticket office (when open) and presumably the TVM was cordoned off and intending passengers had to retrace their steps to the main road and use the road bridge to access the UP platform. I timed it as 4 minutes to walk briskly to the UP platform, there are no signs at the station approach/entrance indicating that the footbridge was closed.

The railway is facing many challenges to encouraging passengers to return, but the likes of Kidsgrove and Congleton stations are not great adverts for using public transport.


Which other stations on our network give a very poor first impression and don’t due justice to the town they serve…?
Colchester north 1970’s entrance, very horrible and in dire need of modernisation. What happened to the plans in 2015 to rebuild the 70’s section?
 

Aictos

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Birmingham New Street. Although you might say it matches the city, the refurbishment of a few years ago proved that you can’t polish a t*rd.
The refurbishment of New Street is miles better then the grotty concourse that existed prior, of course not much you can do at platform level but the concourse is much easier to navigate and a massive improvement on what was there before.
 

ashkeba

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Cambridge North. You exit the station into a soulless plaza/bus-turnaround/car-park staring at the backside of a giant nudey statue! And if you do not know where to go for the river path, you will spend a long time walking through a bland industrial estate to get to average suburbia.

It is a new station. How did it go so wrong?
 

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