Just over a week ago I was copied into an email which indicated that East Midlands Trains may want to renegotiate the arrangements for access through Derby station. I had a personal interest in this as the original agreement between Derby City Council and East Midlands Trains was signed while I was the relevant Cabinet Member on the council. I’ve given more background to this here and here.
Renegotiating could formalise a reduced level of access. I may not have any role now in the negotiating process, but that would not stop me getting involved! The first step was to find out how people feel about the current access.
I therefore quickly created a survey, and printed 100 copies. Over the next two days I hung around outside the station – on the Pride Park side – and asked people who were going through the station (rather than catching a train) to complete the form. I had some interesting conversations in the course of doing this.
The most significant conversation may turn out to have been with the government minister with responsbility for sustainable travel!
There I was, waiting for the next person to appear from along the road or out of the station, when a Trent Barton bus stopped outside, although this is not a bus route. One of their directors jumps out, recognises me, and tells me that they’ve come to meet Norman Baker MP, the Lib Dem Minister in the Department for Transport.
When he duly arrived, I grabbed a quick word and a photo – and explained my purpose in being there. He waved as he went on his way in the bus.
Surveys completed and analysed, I wrote up a short report, and have circulated copies to the council, East Midlands Trains and Norman Baker, amongst others.
There was strong support for access through the station, with most people finding the arrangements were working. However there were some people who expressed concern, either on their own part or for others, about access being uncertain or sometimes challenged.
The intention had been to ensure that both people wanting to make this journey regularly and those doing it occasionally could use the route without difficulty. For some this was being achieved, but not for everyone.
Another conversation today, with someone for whom this would often be their best route to work, suggests that another, more difficult survey is needed. How many people are choosing not to use the route through the station because they either don’t know it is available, or have found it too difficult to use?
Maybe surveys as part of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund project will help to identify this…