Plans to transform the front of York railway station have divided opinion. In the first of a two-part debate to conclude on Monday, the council and LNER have their say


SO, plans to transform the front of York railway station have been approved. Councillors voted in favour of the scheme by a majority of 9-6 at a meeting on February 4.

The proposals will see sweeping changes to the area between the city walls and the station - including Queen Street and the area behind the Railway Institute - and to the front of the station itself.

The Queen Street bridge will be demolished, and a new road will be built outside the station, with a loop linking to a new multi storey car park behind the RI.

Bus stops will be altered, and there will be new pedestrian and cycle facilities.

Part of the station building in Parcel Square - to the left of the station as you face it from the city walls - will be knocked down to make way for a new façade.

The Railway Institute band room and extensions behind the RI gym will be demolished, as will the Unipart rail service centre building between the station and the commuter car park.

A new three metre-wide cycle lane will be created, the taxi rank will be moved out of the porticoed area of the station, short-stay parking will also be moved, and Tea Room Square will be tidied up.

Funding of £14.5 million was secured in March last year from a successful bid by the Leeds City Region to the government’s Transforming Cities Fund to enable the project to move ahead.

This being York, however, debate still rages as to whether we have got the plans right. Most of the discussion focusses on whether we really need that new, multi-storey car park - and why we haven’t seized the chance to build a bus station, or at least a bus interchange, near the station.

We invited four key players in the debate - City of York Council, LNER, First York and the York Bus Forum - to have their say.

Today, it is the turn of the council and LNER. But don’t miss Monday’s Press to see what the Bus Forum and First York have to say...

York Press:

Impression of how the revamped station frontage will look. Image: Arup, from City of York Ciouhncil planning document

Claire Ansley, LNER Customer Experience Director

York Station has played a vital part in the history of the city for more than a century, providing connections to and from a wide range of destinations across the UK. It has undergone many changes in its times. The exciting new plans now underway to transform the station frontage will help to ensure that the station is fit for the future, creating a much more pleasant environment for the community and ensuring that all visitors have a warm welcome as they arrive in the city.

The plans also complement improvements that LNER has made and continue to make within the station, including the relocation of the travel centre, enhanced toilet facilities and the creation of an accessible First Class lounge.

As a long-distance rail operator, we are committed to promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly ways for people to travel. Encouraging people out of their cars, off planes and onto trains is one of our key ambitions, and the station improvement plans are part of that bigger picture.

We actively support the need to improve walking, cycling and public transport links to encourage a shift away from cars. That is why we’re pleased that the frontage scheme incorporates many improvements in these areas, including additional bus stops, and both Tea Room Square and the entrance portico being pedestrianised.

Alongside these improvements, it is also important to recognise that large numbers of people outside of the centre of York have a greater dependency on their car, which has been part of the design challenge in developing the improvement plans.

A proportion of those people from the region still choose to drive to places such as London, Newcastle and Edinburgh despite direct rail connections, with convenience often cited as their main reason.

To ensure residents of rural areas are not discouraged or excluded from rail travel, and to reduce the number of long-distance journeys being made by car, it is therefore important that we offer modern car parking facilities at the station.

The new multi-storey car park will provide a more efficient use of space that allows other improvements to be made to support sustainable transport, such as additional cycling storage and access routes and the creation of a road layout that will enable buses to turn around. We will also use the opportunity to install charging points for electric cars, further supporting people in moving towards green travel.

We are happy to work with interested parties as part of any future projects that encourage the use of sustainable transport within the region. This includes exploring how we can support an increased use of public transport across the city.

As well as managing York Station, LNER has a deep connection with York with our historic headquarters based in the city centre, and we are committed to playing our part to help the city thrive for generations to come. We will continue to work in partnership with City of York Council and Network Rail to deliver the station improvement plans.

York Press:

Impression of how the approach to the station from Queen Streen would, look. The multi-storey car park would be off to the left, behind the railway institute


Neil Ferris, director of economy and pace, City of York Council

The much-needed modernisation of our railway station, agreed by the council’s Executive and then planning committee, is crucial to deliver benefits residents identified through extensive public engagement.

Removing Queen Street Bridge will create the space to improve the experience for pedestrians, cyclists and bus users, whilst enhancing the setting of the city’s historic walls.

The scheme delivers a number of improvements to the transport interchange at the front of the station, making sustainable transport the obvious choice for journeys to the station.

This includes the delivery of new public spaces, a more pedestrian-friendly experience, an increase in bus capacity to serve the station, and segregated pedestrian and cycle routes to the station. This offers the best use of space to deliver quicker, more reliable journeys.

The interchange will also allow for more journeys and remove some causes of delays. The stops will be placed directly outside the station, with four additional stops to allow for separation of city and long-distance buses.

By providing more room between stops, we can help remove the delays we have all experienced as buses pull in and out. With the number of buses on the road set to increase by over 10 per cent in the next 15 years, these changes will help increase the number of bus journeys by 75 per cent over 15 years. Combined with the investment already put in place to create York’s Clean Air Zone and electric fleets, York can help reduce its carbon output and build on its response to the climate crisis through the delivery of this scheme.

In order to progress this scheme, the council has had to negotiate with landowners in order to secure the land needed. The rail industry have been clear throughout this project that they require the replacement parking, but with provision for electric cars and improved cycling and walking, this has recently received planning approval.

The upgrade will not only provide much-needed regeneration of the station and surrounding area, but it is also an integral part of delivering the wider York Central scheme, which will look to drive clean and inclusive growth in the city for generations to come.