Defining the matter

The two preceding sections have shown how railway stations are imbued with the dynamics of both the transport and the land-use domains, and how this results in distinct but interrelated transport and property development perspectives. Both positive and negative interrelations may exist. For instance, a high level of accessibility may provide the critical mass required for the development of particular activities. In turn, a high density of activities may translate into demand for transport. However, dense patterns of land use may also make a location difficult to reach, and optimization of its accessibility by all transport modes may also negatively affect its liveability and thus its attractiveness. As anticipated in Chapter 2, such a field of complex node-place interactions belongs to the core issues of railway station redevelopment. The unique challenge of station area (re)development seems to be, on the one hand, to exploit synergies and, on the other, to manage conflicts between node-based and place-based activities —between people moving and people staying. This complexity is well represented by the dilemmas facing railway companies. The railroad operator is an actor who has to forge a difficult synthesis between multiple—often contrasting—goals. For instance, should property development get priority and all land be put to its maximum use? Or should the accent lie on transport development, whereby space is reserved for future infrastructure needs? And what should be the share of offices in the programme? From a property perspective, offices are perhaps a financial need. But from a transport perspective, they generate only peak traffic, which is the most expensive and least profitable to deal with. The aggregate additional demand for rail travel that a concentration of offices would generate, even assuming very favourable modal splits, would be relatively marginal for most stations. Furthermore, the dominance of offices may create security problems at off-hours, thus discouraging potential passengers and users (Portheine, 1994).

In moving towards a combined transport-property perspective, we should first consider what, at least at first sight, could be seen as an ideal-typical case. We can then outline the contours of an integrated typology of possibilities of station areas in Europe. However, a more refined conceptual framework will emerge only after the presentation and evaluation of the case studies further on in the book.

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