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Hassocks Station , a Carpark side

The newly constructed Station building at Hassocks has been highly commended in the category Medium Station of the Year at the National Rail Awards 2014.

The original Hassocks station was built in 1972 and over time had become unfit for the 1.2 million passengers who pass through the station each year. Previously the small Ticket Office made it difficult to help passengers, the building was in need of work and the waiting shelters offered little comfort or protection from the elements. Working with the Department for Transport’s National Station Improvement Programme, Southern Railway and Network Rail undertook a project to completely replace the old building with a new, vibrant and modern facility.

Network Rail worked closely with the Hassocks Rail Group during the scheme, to develop the station design. The station complex was formally opened by Catherine Cassidy at a ceremony attended by Southern Railway’s Managing Director, Chris Burchell, Network Rail’s Sussex Route Enhancement Manager, Simon Chapman, representatives from the Hassocks Amenity Association, Local Authorities, Sussex Community Rail Partnership, Network Rail, contractors and Southern project managers.

We caught up with Steve Cowell, the Associate Director of BPR Architects, to find out more about the scheme and the firm’s involvement. Steve commented:

“Southern Railways appointed us as sub-consultants to Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) who were the engineers on the project. Our brief was to design a new modular station; the design has been intended as an evolution of the Network Rail modular station design principles which were originally set out by architects at Network Rail. The design had been adapted to create an efficient, elegant building that responds to how the station may be managed in the future.”

The planning process began in February 2011 and works began on site in August 2012 for the duration of 12 months.

The key to the design and construction of the new station building was in the use of off-site manufactured components that were delivered to site, enabling rapid assembly on pre-prepared foundations. This approach reduced costs and time on-site, minimising inconvenience to passengers. The new building is also easier for railway staff to maintain, and provides more resistance to vandalism.

The new station building has been constructed using a stainless steel column and roof structure. This framework has a brickwork finish which is sympathetic with the railway cottages adjacent to the new station.

The building comprises an elegant roof canopy which provides shelter by creating a modular envelope under the canopy and columns. The BPR team held meetings with Network Rail planners ensure the scheme was progressing in the right direction. BPR have developed a unique design concept that enables the station structure to accommodate functional alterations and adapt to changes that will take place in the rail industry in the coming years.

Through the new simple interchangeable wall panel system, the building will be able to adapt to absorb future capacity, new ticket sales systems, communication systems, or new uses such as a community building.

The new state of the art station building at Hassocks also contains a more spacious booking hall area making it easier for passengers to move through the station, particularly at the busiest times of the day. A height adjustable ticket office window; an accessible unisex toilet; new accessible benches; new soft seating in the booking hall; a retail kiosk and an Info Pod and cash machine have also been installed as part of the scheme.

Raymond Brown Group acted as the main contractor on the scheme on behalf of their client Southern Railways. The team undertook the demolition of the existing station building and oversaw the provision of the new station building as well as the installation of the new ticket office, refurbishment of the platforms and forecourt areas and additional bike and motorbike facilities.

Construction works took place in a number of sequential phases to minimise impact on the operational station, passengers and staff. A temporary ticket office was provided during the works and DDA compliant access routes were created during the scheme.

Many of the works such as crane lifts, hoarding, scaffolding and platform works were carried out during track possessions with Raymond Brown providing possession booking services and management as well as safety critical staff. Raymond Brown managed and coordinated all Third Party service providers including the ticket gateline, customer information screens, CCTV and other station services.

Exeter based Rydon Signs Ltd specialise in railway and retail signage and undertook the design, manufacture and installation of all of the signage at Hassocks Station. The team were on site for approximately a week. Tim Porosa, Contracts Manager at Rydon Signs Ltd, commented:

“It was important for us to be involved with this scheme because it was a prestigious project and the works undertaken were very high end.”

The firm was founded in 1979 and since its inception the firm has grown from its humble garage beginnings to become one of the country’s premier international sign providers.

Wessex Fabrications Ltd specialises in architectural, structural and general metal works and offered their services on the Hassocks Station scheme. The firm were on site for almost a month on a phased basis. Richard Mears, the Director of Wessex Fabrications Ltd, commented:

“With considerable experience to date on a variety of railway projects, the Hassocks Station scheme, with the unique approach to redevelopment has been a pleasure to be involved with.

The project has been a great showcase for the quality of our work and expertise on site. We would welcome the opportunity to be involved in future NSIP projects.”

Thomas Carter Ltd is a construction company which specialise in the use of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). During the project the firm designed, engineered, manufactured and constructed the SIPs element of the station building. The team managed to do so in a very quick timeframe in line with the stringent guidelines of the client. Simone Thomas, a Partner at Thomas carter Ltd, commented:

“It was great to be involved with this scheme as it ensured the venue was constructed up to modern day standards; this is why we were chosen to work on the project. For us this project looks great in our portfolio as it is something new and shows that the use of SIPs is very versatile.”

Steve Cowell from BPR added:

“The project ran smoothly. Clear communication between all parties involved was crucial.

“It was very important for us to be involved with this project and with the National Rail Awards. The delivery of this modular station has been well received across the industry. We are continuing to evolve the design principles at other stations, as there is always room for improvement.

“Initial feedback has been positive, and the community engagement on the project went down very well. We allowed the local residents to select the brick colour for the station which matched the brick colour of the Victorian cottages opposite. Small things like that mean a lot to local residents and it kept them on side during the construction stage of the project.”

Improvement works to the station did not end in August 2013. More than £3 million has been spent on the station over the last two years delivering the new station building and full step-free accessibility, improving the facilities for the travelling public. As well as the new lifts, the station subway has been refurbished, new lighting installed, along with new passenger shelters and new cycle shelters.

National Station Improvement Programme: NSIP

Network Rail are working with train operating companies in a bid to deliver better stations across England and Wales. The £150million National Stations Improvement Programme will make a difference for over 150 medium-sized stations.

Following the completion of the scheme many stations will boast better facilities including real-time information, clearer way-finding and better waiting areas. Canterbury West and Aylesbury stations have recently benefitted from NSIP following the installation of improved passenger information systems. Works are currently underway to improve stations in Aberystwyth, Rhyl, Pontypridd, Port Talbot and Ystrad Mynac.

Works are being delivered across the board alongside other work at stations on a coordinated basis in order to help minimise disruption and keep costs down. The government has provided £150million and an additional £17million has been raised from third parties to help deliver more extensive improvements for passengers.

Over 60 projects have been completed so far, benefitting 150 different stations across England and Wales.

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