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Can Modular Stations Help to Build Back Better?

3 min

c. free-photos, pixabay.
As the rail sector aims to build back better, Quadrant Transport delves into how Atkins modular stations help reduce costs and improve the way category D, E and F stations are built to the specific needs of the local community.

Ian Chapman, Client Director at Atkins, kicked off the event by addressing the audience and explaining the initial thoughts behind a modular station approach. He said: “It is something we have been working on for a while now. What we can do for stations in a much more efficient way, how we can customise them to support the local community and to provide a steppingstone to support different needs around the station.”

Joining Ian at the event, was Ali Mowahed, Director of Stations and TOD at Atkins, to give an extensive insight into the technical aspects of building a modular station. Echoing what Ian said, he added: “Our focus on modular stations and what that means for community engagement was turbocharged by the RIBA competition last summer that Atkins and PRD entered.”

Atkins and PRD rewarded for their efforts 

Over 230 entries from over 30 countries entered the RIBA competition with Atkins and PRD being one of 5 teams selected to continue engagement with Network Rail.

Ali acknowledged the push for smaller community stations. “The solution that we settled on really is structured around a simple smart wall concept. A station with two faces, one that provides rail amenities and the reverse side of that wall that provides Light retail, EV charging, information and local notice boards.”

The core principles behind this were taken from Atkins’ design for the manufacturer and assembly (DFMA) team. The principles being if it is not simple and cost-effective it won’t be built.

These types of stations normally have difficult business cases and cases for investment isn’t as large as more central stations, so it really does need to be a cost-effective solution

Adding to this, “These types of stations normally have difficult business cases and cases for investment isn’t as large as more central stations, so it really does need to be a cost-effective solution.”

Modular station approach aligns with PACE objectives

Modular stations that Atkins has created, are a five-metre grid with various canopies that can be extended, and provide weather protection. You can add walls for waiting rooms, toilets and even retail spaces.

This is beneficial as all these things can be provided by the same solution. “we’ve done some tests on applicability and we are comfortable that this system can adapt and change, but what is really exciting about it is that over time you can add or remove modules.”

As contractors and passengers are both aware, any station process can be painfully slow. However, this new station approach creates a mechanism that you can effectively plug and play.

It is an exciting concept and aligns with the push the industry is seeing with speeding up procurement in station environments.

Essential that every station feels unique 

Expressing the need for a unique feel to each station, Ali told the audience: “We were conscious that a one size fits all approach is entirely inappropriate. So, look and feel is one of the most important parts of this system. We are able to distribute different materials to be applied in different locations, so you get a locally relevant look and feel.”

Rounding up the event, Quadrant Transport heard: “it is inherently more sustainable to have a station that can adapt over time, the core frame can stay, and we can swap out the look and feel. that lifecycle of the components is huge and there are many more options.”