Project: Rapid Construction of Passenger Interchanges

Reference: STP 14/6/10

Last update: 19/12/2007 10:18:04


The Primary objective of this study is the development of designs for passenger interchanges which may be constructed rapidly, and significantly decrease costs and thereby make more interchanges economically viable. A number of specific tasks will be addressed each of which is a key objective.

- Completion of a study investigating generic design issues for new interchanges, which will include a study of the requirements of stakeholders (passengers, local authorities, transport companies etc.), an assessment of the needs of mobility impaired passengers and indentification of common design requirements and constraints.
- Development of a design brief for a good quality architectural solutions for small passenger interchanges, defining minimum life cycle costs, shortest possible track closures and cost-effective optimisation of access and security.
- Production of a package design quick-build prototype interchange including identifcation of the potential for site-specific customised solutions with a global modular framework.


The Government recognises that the present rate of increase in road use in unsustainable and aims to discourage urban car use. For such a policy to be successful there is a need for an increase in the number of conveniently located passenger interchanges. If new interchanges are to be economically viable, it is vital that they be built cost effectively and safely and fully satisfy the needs of all construction processes. For example, as new rail stations have a number of fixed criteria there is considerable scope for standardisation of designs and prefabrication of the necessary components. Conducting the majority of the work offsite, thus removing the dangers and costs associated with working near live railways, would allow the introduction of a manufacturing approach to the design and assembly. Construction activities at site would be restricted to site preparation and installation of foundations. Assembly of the station platforms, ancillary shelters and over-bridges may then be acheived in a single weekend. Similar techniques could also be applied toi the construction of passenger interchanges for bus, tram and light rail systems.


University of Sheffield
Sir Frederick Mappin Building, Mappin Street, Sheffield, S1 3JD
0114 222 5738

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £134,531.00

Actual start date: 12 October 2001

Actual completion date: 15 August 2005


Rapid Construction of Passenger Interchanges - Technical Report
Author: University of Sheffield
Publication date: 01/08/2005

Summary of results

  1. 'Rapid Construction of Small Passenger Interchanges' (RCoSPI) was a DTR/EPSRC funded multidisciplinary LINK research project examining the modular design and rapid construction of small rail-based interchanges for the UK. The team included researchers from the departments of Civil and Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and School of Architecture, all at the University of Sheffield, and industrial partners Davis Langdon and Everest, Corus, Anthony Hunt Associates (now SKM Anthony Hunt) and Derek Trowell Architects. As all new stations have a number of fixed criteria - platform length, shelter requirements, and minimum distance between adjacent platforms - there is considerable scope for standardisation of designs and prefabrication of the necessary components, allowing for the design of a system-built station where the majority of work could be conducted offsite. This would in turn minimise possession costs, unproductive and dangerous work on-site - close to live railway lines - reduce overall costs and allow the cost-effective building of new, or the refurbishment of old, stations. The research objectives were the i) investigation of generic design issues for new interchanges, ii) development of a design brief for a good quality small passenger interchange, and iii) production of a 'Package Design' for a quickly-built station.

    The main design parameters for the design of small passenger interchanges were investigated through literature review, surveys, virtual three-dimensional modelling, and interviews. In identifying stakeholders' needs, the research reviewed books on station design and management, recently completed research reports and standards for the provision of services for disabled passengers. Effective means of shaping the stations' physical environment to ensure safety and deter vandalism and trespassing were pin-pointed by reviewing railway safety statistics, guidelines published by the Department of Transport, and Railway Group Guidelines. The size of 'small interchanges' was determined as varying from a bus-shelter size to a suburban interchange - falling under the railway station categories D, E, F, (and G of the new SRA-proposed categorisation). Six old and three recently renovated small stations were surveyed. The research identified key cost-factors and expenditure percentages incurred at each activity of a typical greenfield station build, using Davis Langdon and Everest's extensive database on station costs.

    A Brief for a Good Quality Small Passenger Interchange was created in April 2003, to serve as a basis for the design of modular components to be developed in the subsequent design phase of the project. The Brief provided general principles of interchange design, explained the advantages of 'rapid construction' and presented the functional, architectural and engineering principles for the design of small interchanges. It also identified generic products for the design of new modular interchanges including (i) Platform and circulation floor structure (ii) Mechanical services and cable grid (iii) Pods (toilets, waiting room etc) (iv) Enclosure (canopy and wall system) and (v) Over-bridge (including lifts and staircases). Each product was examined in terms of its function and minimum dimensions but also its characteristics for assembly within the framework of a station. Emphasis was placed on designing these products as independent entities, ensuring the delivery of an open-end system generating possibilities for new developments from the constituent parts of the system, and allowing for the use of the products in conjunction with conventional construction, assuring the maximum implementation of the system constituents. The Brief was used to establish a consensus between stakeholders on the qualities of design for small passenger interchanges and the team approached various stakeholders' organisations that have a vested interest in small passenger interchanges in the UK and submitted the Brief for consultation. Responses helped shape the brief and informed the design team throughout the research-by-design phase of the project.

    In delivering the final research objective, the production of a "package design', prototype design studies, having initially identified module dimensions for road and rail transportation, progressed to the design of the generic products including (i) Platform Sub-structure, (ii) Platform and Canopy, (iii) Bridge. The design of the sub-structure employs three foundation solutions; concrete pad, concrete raft and steel screw-piles, requiring minimum site preparation, and allowing rapid installation and deconstruction. Height adjustment mechanisms and flexibility at the interface of components allow adaptability at installation on site, as well as tram or light rail applications. The developed 2.4x2.4x2.65m platform and canopy module is extendable laterally, adaptable to curved lines and offers 2.5m to 3m platform clearance to the nearest obstacle (column). It can carry drainage components, fencing, panels for creating enclosures, and canopy columns. The column and canopy deploy from within the specified dimensions. The column employs a tube within a tube construction allowing for height adjustability, achieving varying clearances. The column-canopy connection, either pin-joint or ball-socket (achieving larger architectural variations), allows the canopy to be packed within the containing dimensions and deployed to any inclination. Detailed drawings of the prototype design have been produced and augmenting the design drawings, are two costing models, one for a platform and canopy, and one for bridge construction developed by Davis Langdon and Everest.