York station to lose its ‘porte’ in a storm
A revamp plan will generate changes at York. PHILIP HAIGH reports
Aporte cochère is a covered space at a building’s entrance that allows people to join or leave vehicles while sheltered from weather. York has one. Newcastle station famously had one, although today this is a rather dowdy collection of retail units and ticket machines. Passengers alighting from trains must now wait in the open if they want a taxi.
Soon, York passengers could be in the same situation, as City of York Council plans to shut the station’s porte cochère to vehicles, removing the reason for which the North Eastern Railway built it in 1877. It claims its changes will improve air quality, although you could argue it might do better to encourage taxi drivers to switch to hybrid or electric cars rather than force passengers to wait outside in the rain - rain that usually leads to long taxi queues.
Closing the porchway is one aspect of the council’s wider masterplan to redevelop the area around the station that includes sweeping away the curved bridge that carries Queen Street up and over the former route into York’s old station (now occupied by the council’s offices), move bus stops further from the station and make provision for a multi-storey car park.
York city councillor with responsibility for transport, Peter Dew comments: “Travelling to and from the station is a far from ideal experience, whichever mode of transport you use. We now have a fantastic opportunity to make it much easier to use, especially with the station set for a threefold increase in passenger numbers over the next 30 years.”
Travelling to and from the station is a far from ideal experience, whichever mode of transport you use. We now have a fantastic opportunity to make it much easier to use. Peter Dew, York City Council
There’s no doubt that access to York station could be improved. The current situation leads to congestion around Tea Room Square which forms the entrance to the short-stay car park and the exit from the porte cochère. Congestion isn’t helped by buses halting at stops conveniently outside the station for passengers but blocking the view of the road for motorists trying to leave Tea Room Square.
The council’s masterplan comprises eight stages.
1. Demolish Queen Street Bridge and realign the road.
2. Move bus stops from immediately outside the porte cochère to further south opposite the old railway arches in the city walls.
3. Move the taxi rank and drop-off point from the porte cochère to Parcel Square, having demolished the extension buildings there (used as a rail staff mess room and for storage).
4. Move short-stay car parking from its partially covered position to a space between the station and the Railway Institute Gym (a space used for parking today).
5. Move pedestrian crossings from either side of the station entrance to a position directly outside it.
6. Create a new Station Square where today’s bus stops sit.
7. Transform Tea Room Square into a public space with only limited access for delivery lorries.
8. Enhance cycle routes and parking with segregated cycle lanes.
The council is now considering public comments following a consultation earlier in the summer. It plans to implement the changes by 2021 and expects to use funding from the Leeds City Region Growth Deal and the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund.
An artist’s impression of the front of York station following the city council’s changes, with the former portecochère prominent in the centre and Tea Room Square to the right.
Looking down the ramp from Queen Street bridge, this view shows on the left the extension buildings that the city council wants to demolish to form Parcel Square and the new taxi rank. These extension buildings were erected in 1947 replacing those demolished in an air raid in 1942. New bus stops will sit roughly under the photographer’s feet.
This will be the site of the new short-stay car park, with the Railway Institute Gymnasium building on the left. The long-stay car park will remain beyond the far end of the building with provision to become a multi-storey car park.
Queen Street Bridge blocks views of the city walls from ground level. York City Council plans to demolish it, returning the road to its previous level. If it implements its plans, the road in the foreground will become the exit junction from the station’s short-stay car park which will sit in space to the left of the Railway Institute Gymnasium building which is just visible on the left of the picture.
The front of York station today showing how the bus stops are convenient for rail users but also how they block motorists’ views of traffic approaching from Queen Street Bridge, which rises in the background. The city’s walls are to the left behind the trees and the portecochère is to the right.
This diagram shows the principal elements of York City Council’s proposals for York station.
Philip was formerly Business Editor at RAIL, leaving in September 2013 after spending 16 years with the title. He has a background in engineering, and is now a freelance writer and regular contributor to RAIL.