October 31 is World Cities Day, promoting better cities and better lives.

This year’s theme – ‘changing the world: innovations and better life for future generations’ – speaks to the improvements we’re making across Britain.

Railway stations are vital hubs for communities so getting them right, from architecture to waiting rooms and the retail spaces that make passengers’ lives easier, is important to us.

It’s why we launched a dedicated expert panel and a raft of new design principles this year to ensure better value and outcomes for the long term.

The Design Advice Panel is our first aimed at ensuring the adoption of better design practices. It includes architects, engineers and urban planners, and will review designs earlier to lead to better structures for the railway.

We’re proud of the significant improvements we’ve made to railway stations in recent years and look forward to delivering even better transport hubs for passengers.

London Bridge railway station

Here are seven completed and current projects contributing to better cities and better lives:

1. London Bridge

London Bridge is the capital’s oldest railway station but a £1bn transformation brought it into the 21st century:

A five-year redevelopment completed last year to help meet the infrastructure demands of the future. Improvements included new entrances on Tooley Street and St Thomas Street, a huge new concourse unifying the station for the first time and step free access to every platform, thanks to new lifts and escalators.

We also reconfigured the track layout and created new platforms created to accommodate Thameslink trains.

Meanwhile, new shops, cafes, bars and restaurants have all helped the station to become a destination in its own right – positively impacting the surrounding area.

2. Birmingham New Street

Today, Birmingham New Street station is a major transport and shopping hub, stimulating economic growth and regeneration in the city:

The new concourse is three times larger than previously and is enclosed by a giant atrium, allowing natural light throughout the station. The upgrade has significantly improved the experience for passengers, leading to better links to and through the city centre.

This year, we opened a dedicated lounge for passengers requiring mobility assistance in one of our initiatives to improve accessibility and put passengers first.

3. Glasgow Queen Street

We’re busy delivering a modern and fully accessible transport hub at Glasgow’s gateway to Scotland:

The redeveloped Glasgow Queen Street, due for completion next year, will give passengers:

  • a contemporary building both internally and externally
  • an expanded concourse
  • improved, fully accessible, entrances on Dundas Street and George Square
  • new station facilities including accessible toilets, lost property and ticket office as well as space for retail
  • extended platforms to accommodate longer trains of up to eight carriages.

Look inside:

4. Edinburgh Waverley

In Scotland’s capital, we’re creating a vision for the future of Edinburgh Waverley station:

It’s a vibrant commuter station and a hub for tourists from across Britain. Footfall has more than doubled within the last 10 years from 10 million to more than 24 million. Estimates suggest it will reach more than 49 million by 2048.

More passengers mean more demand on train services and more pressure on the supporting infrastructure to meet the needs of our customers.

The Waverley Masterplan, led in partnership by Network Rail and City of Edinburgh Council, will form a framework for the evolution of the station over the short, medium and long term. 

The masterplan will need to answer some vital questions.

  • How will Waverley cope with the predicted increase in passengers using the station and traversing the city centre?
  • How will Waverley operate with the advent of new transportation trends and technology?

How do we meet the current needs of passengers, businesses and local stakeholders while not impeding technological, environmental, social and economic change?

5. Leeds

A new roof at Leeds – installed in recent weeks – has allowed much more daylight into the station, giving passengers a more enjoyable station experience:

Leeds is the third-busiest British railway station outside of London, serving almost 30 million passengers a year. It's also the largest in terms of platforms in England outside of London, with 17 platforms.

We're making it brighter, more accessible and enabling more trains to use the station. As well as a new roof, we're making capacity enhancements – a new platform, track and upgraded signalling to improve services. We're also improving the area outside the main entrance (New Station Street).

6. Liverpool Lime Street

We've implemented a huge upgrades programme at Liverpool Lime Street, which serves almost 20 million passengers a year:

A year ago, the station's substantial upgrade officially completed, giving passengers longer, more frequent and more reliable trains.

Nearby, we're getting ready to carry out a multi-million-pound signalling upgrade at Edge Hill station.

We're transferring signalling controls to our state-of-the-art rail operating centre in Manchester as part of the Great North Rail Project – making the railway more reliable for passengers.

It forms part of a £340m investment in railway upgrades in the Liverpool City Region by the end of 2019, jointly funded by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Network Rail.

7. Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway

Passengers travelling to and from Bristol now benefit from Britain's biggest ever signalling upgrade, boosting capacity in the Bristol and Bath area:

Bristol Area Signalling Renewals and Enhancements (BASRE) is leading to more seats for passengers, improved reliability, and faster and more frequent services – including nearly twice as many between Bristol and London. 

Furthermore, extra railway lines will pave the way for non-stop services between London and Bristol. Currently, Great Western Railway’s London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads trains all go via Box tunnel, calling at Chippenham and Bath Spa.

New services will instead travel via Hullavington, which will speed up journey times between Bristol and London Paddington by up to 17 minutes. They will be semi-fast trains, only stopping at Bristol Temple Meads via Bristol Parkway.

Last December, we opened two new sets of ticket gates at Bristol Temple Meads to make it easier for passengers to get on and off the station and reduce congestion during peak travel times.

In total, on platform three, we installed eight additional ticket gates at the new Bonapartes entrance and six at Queen Anne Gate. Both locations include two wide aisle ticket gates to improve accessibility.

In spring last year, we officially opened a new platform at Bristol Parkway station for a more frequent train service on a more resilient network. Meanwhile, improvements to the track layout at Bristol Parkway are also helping freight companies.

Read more:

Better design across our railway

Improving access for all passengers

Proud to support The Railway Heritage Trust

People and the railway: reconnecting Scotland

Stations Day: 10 times we delivered better stations for passengers

Putting passengers first

Passengers first – from free toilets to Access for All

Still to come – free WiFi at our stations

New Stations Improvement Programme

New Stations Fund