Reopening closed station buildings

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ryan125hst

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The thread about station toilets got me thinking about all of the stations that have no toilets, ticket offices, waiting rooms ect, but the buildings still stand.

I am lucky to live in Retford, as the station is on the ECML and has an open ticket office, recently refurbished toilets and 3 waiting rooms. It used to have a cafe, but this has been shut for as long as I can remember, only opening when the Bassetlaw (North Notts) Railway Society has an open day.

Gainsborough Lea Road, on the other hand, is no more than a couple of platforms and waiting shelters. The thing is that the station building is still standing. When my Grandparents took me to the station a few years ago, they had been turned into a garden center. However, it later closed and, as far as I know, the building is still empty.

What I wanted to know is, how much would it cost to refurbish the building and install a ticket office, toilet facilities, a waiting room and maybe a small cafe? Surely a small station wouldn't need many staff and would be cheap to run. They might even be able to ask for staff on a voluntary basis.

It would make stations that have empty station buildings so much better. There must be loads of them up and down the country. Is it plausible, or would it be too expensive or too difficult to be authorized?
 
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MidnightFlyer

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This has been demonstrated brilliantly at Eaglescliffe recently, and at places like Ludlow in the past.

Trouble is is that the building it could be falling to pieces. Further, you have to find (and train) staff (even if it's volunteer-run), and any independent agent would have quite a task paying the fees ATOC demand. But it can work. There are many stations that in my eyes warrant staff - Wakefield Kirkgate (hopefully coming soon) being one.

I would love to see hundreds of more stations manned, the major buffers though are people like McNulty and anti-booking office TOCs (LM, SE and FCC being some who have proposed massive cuts over recent years).
 

142094

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Staffing and maintenance will be the largest costs preventing some station buildings from reopening. Even if you only pay the person the bare minimum, that still adds up when you times it by the number of stations. In many cases there is no benefit to the TOC in reopening buildings/restaffing stations, so they don't see any point in wasting money.
 

ryan125hst

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Staffing and maintenance will be the largest costs preventing some station buildings from reopening. Even if you only pay the person the bare minimum, that still adds up when you times it by the number of stations. In many cases there is no benefit to the TOC in reopening buildings/restaffing stations, so they don't see any point in wasting money.
Which is where my suggestion of asking for volunteers to staff the station instead comes in. I'm sure there would be people in most communities who would want to see staffing/toilets/cafes at there station. Having volunteers would solve the staffing costs issue.

In terms of TOC's, is it possible for people to privately own and run station buildings on behalf of TOC's. Donations could be collected to reopen a station and, once open, some of the commission will go to keeping the station open, some will go to the TOC.

Better stations would encourage more people to use the service, so the TOC's would earn more money.
 

142094

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Getting volunteers in to do shifts would be quite practical, it is the first investment and subsequent costs on maintenance that need to be thought of. You'd undoubtedly need to set up some sort of group or community interest company which would be accountable and could raise funds to pay for rent/maintenance.

Some station buildings are run by private companies/individuals, although I'm not sure if they pay rent to the TOC or to Network Rail (or any rent at all if they own the buildings and land outright).
 

PinzaC55

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If you wanted to use volunteers you would have to consider
1) The (reasonable) objections of the RMT to rail jobs being carried out by unpaid labour.
2) Finding trustworthy volunteers to staff the office.
3) If rail services are provided by one (or more) TOC's you'd have to have a formalised arrangement for passing the revenue to the TOC, which would incur costs to the TOC for no real benefit.
4) Guards on trains would lose out on commision, and my own experience is that even at some well staffed stations a large number of passengers ignore the ticket office.
5) Somebody would have to pay for the refurbishment, ticket machines etc. Who?
 

tsr

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Could there be an organisation like the National Trust, but for disused railway station buildings? This organisation has worked very well for a good number of decades, and I am sure the same principles could be applied on a more specialist level. I'm sure there would be sufficient volunteers and interested donors to make it worthwhile.

What, in my eyes, would be ideal are waiting rooms with manned information desks. Self-service ticket machines could be provided and maintained as at existing unmanned stations, thereby minimising the level of staff involvement with ticket sales. With some training, advice on ticketing could perhaps be given.

If it was deemed necessary, I think consideration should be given as to whether basic safety work such as snow clearance might be able to be carried out.

Obviously, this is aside from existing work by volunteers who maintain flowerbeds and other cosmetic features. I feel it is very important that this sort of work is encouraged, too.
 

daniel3982

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Burnley council have bought the former Station buildings at Manchester Road to reopen for when direct services to Manchester can operate via the reinstated Todmorden curve.
 

reb0118

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As a guard I hate to see unused & unloved station buildings lying empty, sad, & neglected as I pass through the network. Some of these buildings are little architectural gems. In an ideal world these would all be open, staffed (by the railway), & a pleasant place to wait for your train.

Unfortunately in today's society this may not be possible but with a little thinking out the box it might just be.

Lots of different solutions may be possible and not all will be suitable for all locations but here are a few of my suggestions:-

1) Reopen & refurbish the booking office where passenger numbers warrant this on a full of part time basis as appropriate.

2) Where passenger numbers are significant but do not justify reopening see if working in partnership with other interested agencies would be possible to jointly fund a position. eg a station may be situated in a tourist area so why not combine the station & tourist information office together with the employee covering both roles.

3) Offer attractive rent/leases to prospective businesses who want to take over unused station buildings. eg cafes, post offices, shops, & taxi offices. These undertakings at least help to keep a watchful presence over the station.

Full funding from the appropriate heritage bodies should also be sought as a matter of course.
 

142094

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Northern have a team of station adopters which check stations, and many help with brightening up the place with planters and hanging baskets. Probably the best line where old station buildings have been brought back into use is the S+C where I'm sure every station has a building in use.
 
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