New figures published reveal that ScotRail’s station and train facilities have improved to their best level for two years – and with recent investment in stations facilities, it’s not hard to see why.

The Service Quality Incentive Regime (SQUIRE) released by Transport Scotland published in January 2019 show that ScotRail’s train and station facilities for Period 9 (11 November 2018 – December 8 2018) had the best results for any period since the same time in 2016.

Additionally, results improved by 52 per cent from Period 8 (14 October 2018 – 10 November 2018) to Period 9 (£346,303 to £164,055) and is 60 per cent better than the equivalent period in 2017 (£407,125).

The improvements come following series of station upgrades and redevelopments over the past year, with more due to complete in the next couple years.

Edinburgh – Glasgow Improvement Programme

Prior to the introduction of its brand-new fleet of electric Class 385 trains, the ScotRail Alliance – a partnership between ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland – upgraded stations along the Edinburgh – Glasgow mainline.

Former waiting areas at Croy, Falkirk High, Polmont, Linlithgow and Haymarket have been transformed into new ScotRail lounges, with customers benefiting from a refurbished area with padded benches, new flooring, and softer lighting – making the stations a more pleasant and relaxing place to catch a train.

The new lounges at Linlithgow and Haymarket offer a place to relax or work in comfort, with a mix of sofas and padded chairs, as well as space to work with additional power sockets for charging personal devices.

As part of the investment, 11 new self-service ticket machines have been installed across Croy, Falkirk High, Polmont, and Linlithgow. New 24-inch and 46-inch digital customer information screens are also being installed, along with additional platform seats.

This refurbishment programme is a clear sign of what’s to come as work progresses on the redevelopment of Glasgow Queen Street station due to complete next year. The redevelopment of Queen Street will create a modern contemporary building both internally and externally with improved entrances and new station facilities including accessible toilets, lost property and travel shop, as well as space for new retail outlets. Longer platforms will also accommodate eight carriage trains.

Dundee waterfront

Creating welcoming, efficient stations for passengers is key to making destinations more attractive and improving overall experiences. The new-look facilities for customers installed at Dundee station – which form part of the significant investment to regenerate the city’s waterfont – certainly achieve that.

Customers now benefit from a refurbished lounge area, with a similar look and feel to those between Glasgow and Edinburgh – a mix of sofas and chairs, softer lighting, bookshelves and a series of images highlighting local attractions and points of historical interest.

The concourse area between platforms 1 and 4 has seen its flooring and lighting replaced. As well as a new ceiling, modern glazing and automatic doors to the platform have been fitted. A new changing place accessible toilet is also due to be installed in the Spring, along with further enhancements to the station retail facilities.

The ScotRail Alliance is responsible for the redevelopment of Dundee station on the platform level, with the brand-new station building at street level constructed by Dundee City Council. The new station includes a ticket office and hotel, as well as new lifts and escalators down to the platform level.

Funding for these improvements has been provided by the Scottish Government’s Scottish Stations Fund.

The project shapes a gateway to the city and is an excellent example of how the industry can work in partnership with public and private sector partners to deliver to wider regeneration goals.

New retail opportunities

It’s not just new-look lounges that are improving at stations in Scotland, as ScotRail recently announced a host of new retail opportunities at stations across the country.

Local business Flahute Coffee opened at Markinch station last year offering artisan coffee, luxury Belgian hot chocolate, speciality teas and nutritious snacks to the 315,000 people travelling to and from the station each year.

And ScotRail is now looking for other local and national retail partners to improve the range and quality of facilities at stations – from coffee and food outlets to other services that would benefit the local community.

Over 20 stations from Aviemore to Bathgate have been made available for new ventures, with many locations offering significant footfall in the centre of towns and cities.

Available space and properties range from vacant station buildings and existing retail outlets to the opportunity for stand-alone kiosks in the station.

As well as providing a regular income for Flahute Coffee, which has allowed the business to both establish itself and grow, the business is also feeding into the local community and providing a valuable service to the commuters and locals.

Still to come

The investment in stations across Scotland will continue over the next few years, with redevelopments of Aberdeen, Inverness, Motherwell, Stirling and Perth stations.

Aberdeen will benefit from a significant enhancement in retail at the station alongside a new ticket office and new first-class lounge, with work on the project due to begin later this year.

A year-long programme of work to redevelop Inverness station is also scheduled to start in 2019. The work will improve links from the station to the city by transforming the station entrances, which includes a new frontage on Station Square, more retail opportunities and a new ticket office.

At Motherwell, a new transport interchange will be created which is combined with a wider public realm programme being delivered by North Lanarkshire Council. This work will include extending street level concourse building to provide new retail facilities, ticket gates and ticket retail environment. There will also be an enhancement of the environment at platform level. Work is planned to begin in 2020.

Stirling station will see a new public space in front of the station, with associated reconfiguration of the access, drop off and taxi arrangements to the station. Work will enhance links to the city and the heritage of the station environment and is due to begin later this year.

The scope of work at Perth is still under development, but will be informed by a comprehensive masterplan for the station and surrounding area which is being led by Network Rail in partnership with Perth & Kinross Council.

A programme of works to resurface car parks across the network also recently completed in February.

Service Quality Incentive Regime (SQUIRE)

SQUIRE is used by Transport Scotland to assess facilities on ScotRail trains and at stations.

If something is found during routine SQUIRE inspections that does not meet the expected high standard, ScotRail contributes to the SQUIRE investment fund.

All money raised through the SQUIRE investment fund is reinvested into projects across Scotland’s railway – including funding which has been allocated to improve broadband at multiple stations throughout the country, and is helping to improve the service provided by ticket vending machines and customer information screens.

The figures of improvement in SQUIRE contributions are encouraging and show the hard work of everyone at ScotRail to give customers the best possible experience when travelling by rail.

There is still more work to do, but the investment ScotRail has made in station upgrades and refurbishments, frontline staff and on new trains is delivering significant improvements for customers.