Skip to content
Leeds Older People’s Forum
Entrance to Leeds City Station
← Back to all posts
April 17, 2024

Steering the station through the points

Entrance to Leeds City Station

When the Age Friendly Steering Group (AFSG) were asked to take a look at the changes going on at Leeds City Train station, they went into strong planning mode. It was really important to feed into this major change for the city, and ensure that proper consideration was given to the needs of all those who might use the station.

Each contributor followed a different route to the station and assessed it for ease of accessibility and any particular difficulties that people, including those with walking challenges or dementia, might experience. Their role was to look at these and offer alternatives that might alleviate any problems. It was also important to check access to seating and toilets, and to look at floor coverings (for trip hazards) so that the space would be safe, usable and inclusive for all.

After making their way into the station – challenging in itself as some routes were longer than usual due to construction work – Steering Group members collectively walked round and assessed the main foyer area and the shopping corridor. This raised a few points about signage and colours being used that might be harder for those with some sight loss and walking challenges. The checklist provided offered a good basis for their assessment and enabled the group to consider carefully what sensible adjustments and alternative arrangements might be possible.

It was clear from discussion with the representative of the station that the changes would need to be phased in over time. The project was a long term one, with major disruption likely to be happening for a few years, during which access to trains and the station may be more difficult. The result could be that a cadre of older people do not use the station for so long that they feel unable to come back to it. It was important to find a positive way to manage this issue. In particular, where there are steps, it will be crucial to maintain the operation of lifts, and provide alternative ramps during the construction work.

The key point that emerged during the visit was the central importance of access to good transport links and connections in order for Leeds residents to maintain independent, enriched, fulfilled lives in later years. This includes trains for longer trips such as to the coast, the Dales, the Lake District and the south of England.

Quality of life is important for everyone to remain happy and fulfilled. If Leeds is to claim the age friendly city prize it wishes to have, an accessible train station is vital. Maintaining a ticket office was crucial to this: it enables ticket access and additional assistance for a range of vulnerable customers, including those in wheelchairs and with sight loss. It was felt to be a human right. Without that support some individuals would find they could no longer access the trains at all.

So here is hoping that the important contribution made by the Age Friendly Steering Group has reached those leading the project, and that the group has been able to create a positive, constructive, and empowering outcome for all Leeds residents above a certain age.

Read our full report on the site visit, and a summary.

Julie Badon
Age Friendly Steering Group

Statement from Leeds City Station

I thank the Age Friendly Steering Group for the comprehensive report and recommendations. We are always keen to receive feedback from people with lived experience to improve our services. Here are some updates and actions following the recommendations:

  1. The Friendly Communities team will deliver Wise Up to Ageism training and Dementia Friends sessions to our staff teams in 2024. 
  2. Sarah Prescott (Friendly Communities Development Officer) will also be attending an engagement forum with the businesses that are based in the train station to share the Age and Dementia Friendly Business scheme
  3. The opening hours and availability of the ticket office at Leeds Station will remain unchanged following the national public consultation. This will mean that there are cash options to purchase a ticket from a Northern customer representative at the ticket office as well as from one of the ticket machines. 
  4. We can also share that there are plans to have a First Bus Departure Board in Leeds City Station. 
  5. Additional pre-emptive signage for any changes to the station is already scheduled into our development plans.

We have also noted the comments and considerations on the taxi pick up and drop off points, waiting rooms and a communications campaign. It is important to say that a number of the actions and observations are outside of Network Rail’s direct control and therefore, whilst we’ll happily support and feedback to the relevant 3rd parties, like Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, and the train operating companies, we are unable to promise or own full delivery. We are committed to involve the Age Friendly Steering Group in the development of Leeds Train Station. 

Rob McCarthy
Network Rail Station Manager, Leeds City Station