High Street retailers and coffee shops could be offered the chance to set up shop in some West Midlands railway stations.
The idea of leasing disused station buildings to convenience stores, cafes or other businesses is being looked at by rail bosses.
It is one of a range of measures which could be adopted under the West Midlands Station Alliance agreement – promising passengers cleaner, brighter and more welcoming facilities.
The pilot stations are: Bromsgrove; Cannock; Rugeley Town and Rugeley Trent Valley; Kenilworth; Nuneaton; Dudley Port and Coseley; Droitwich Spa; Kidderminster; Oakengates and Wellington; Smethwick Galton Bridge and Smethwick Rolfe Street; Selly Oak; Stratford-upon-Avon and Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway; Hall Green; Bournville; Marston Green and Tile Hill; Tame Bridge Parkway; Stechford.
Some of the pilots will cover paired stations in the same area – including Smethwick Galton Bridge and Rolfe Street.
Proposals are outlined in the Station Alliance between operator West Midlands Railway, the West Midlands Rail Executive, which oversees their franchise, and Network Rail.
These proposals promise to not only look after and maintain stations to a high standard but seek new ways to improve them and develop them as community assets.
What did the officials say?
Cllr Mark Winnington, chair of the West Midlands Rail Executive and cabinet member for economic growth with Staffordshire County Council, said:
“Our rail stations are at the heart of the communities they serve, and yet many have been under used.
“Through the Alliance we will look to transform our stations into more welcoming places, not just for the thousands of commuters who use them each day but for the wider communities they serve.
“If we can also offer facilities to shops and businesses or groups, this will help to create jobs.”
West Midlands Railway customer experience director Richard Brooks said:
“This initiative can benefit passengers, businesses and local community groups. Travelling by rail in the West Midlands has never been more popular.
“We are investing in more trains, better services and upgrading our stations. This means more people entering the railway creating new opportunities for businesses and community groups to use station buildings for the benefit of all rail users.”
David Golding, interim route managing director for Network Rail, said:
“The Railway Upgrade Plan is about providing passengers with a better railway. We fully support the West Midlands Station Alliance’s plans to improve facilities in stations which will mean passengers have better access to shops, cafes and services when they start or finish their journeys across the West Midlands.”
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