Intermodality, efficiency and operativity, three “steps” under the same roof

Mar 22nd, 2012 | Category: Articles, Current Issue MT, March 12, Railway Stations

Railway stations are an important component of each railway journey and thus it is absolutely imperative that the facilities they provide would be designed so as to meet the needs of each passenger. The problems faced by the management of railway stations are related to how these stations can become more attractive for customers, how they can deliver more accessible services, methods of rendering them more eco-friendly and more profitable.

Railway stations have to be attractive for passengers and retail customers alike. Most of the times, the station is the first image of the customer about railway transport. Just like airports, railway stationss have to transform into profit-generating hubs. What can we say about the central location of a railway station? Due to high regional scale accessibility, many such rail stations become attractive as freight distribution centres, but it still remains to be seen if they can have the expected effect for the retail segment.
One of the main problems that railway managers are confronted with is the li-beralisation of the railway passenger transport services on long distances, an activity initiated in 2010 in most West-European countries. Thus, railway station managers will have to prove their impartiality towards all market players. New operators will demand their own ticket selling facilities to meet their customers’ demands and the railway stations will have to provide the same facilities as airports: restaurants, shopping centres, properly fitted waiting rooms. We could here take the example of French Railways (SNCF) which, in January 2007 signed contracts with railway operators saying that each operator had access to a basic profit-generating package of services and was free to contract further contracts, such as meeting rooms (for the customers of that specific operator to use), special areas dedicated to welcoming customers, as well as business rooms where loyal customers can hold short-duration meetings.
In big urban agglomerations, links between railway stations are extremely important and necessary, especially the integration of different modes of transport. A tailored plan and setting appropriate connections to further consolidate the efficiency of transit services are also necessary.
Apart from services inside railway stations, the intermodal component, meaning the connection of the rail station to the city centre and airports, is very important, mainly if the link is created with the help of rail transport as well. The perception of rail stations as “disturbing” architectural structures inside cities is no longer valid.
What are the expectations of the modern citizens as regards railway stations? Varied functions and a better integration in the urban landscape.

[ by Elena Ilie ]

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