Railway station redevelopment the starting point for analysis

How can railway station redevelopment be characterized? What are its common denominators? In the introduction we mentioned the complexity of railway station development. In subsequent chapters we shall discuss specific aspects of it. In this section we try to reduce the complexity by examining some recurring characteristics. It is a systematic search for convergence. Elaborating on Bruijn et al. (1996, pp. 26-55) we can distinguish at least seven common features, as detailed below.

Scale and complexity

Railway station redevelopment is by definition a large project: not only in terms of capital investment, the number of actors involved, and the organization, but also in terms of its impact on its direct and indirect surroundings. It can generate a positive effect on employment and a vast improvement of transport facilities, next to an upgrading of the existing physical structure.


Each railway station area is unique: not only because of its spatial qualifications, but also in its requirements for redevelopment. This sets limits on the potential for learning from one another. Also, comparison of planning performance between railway locations is impeded by their uniqueness.


The relatively large scale, in combination with the continuity of a relatively long process of decision making and implementation, makes partiality an autonomous characteristic of railway station areas. Such huge projects are often referred to as one, but in reality end up as a sum of many smaller projects. The unity of development often represents the label under which many projects are programmed. Partiality is one of the main impediments to an evaluation of the success or failure of such huge projects.

Interdependence of design

The overall design of the development project is mostly complemented by more specific designs for limited projects within the territory. Each individual design is preceded by a specification of technical, financial and organizational requirements. Each specification deals with different details of the design. Each individual design has to fit into the overall design, but at the same time it has to deal with changes in the conditions under which it is developed, and has to tune in with other designs that are developed at the same time. The interdependence between the overall design and the other designs thus mortgages the success of development. Interdependence of design is therewith closely related to partiality as a feature of railway station redevelopment.

Colliding functional interests

Within a relatively small territory many activities take place, in both the node and the place dimensions. Not only is the number of activities (or functions) important, but so especially is their intensive use of space. Redevelopment implies almost automatically an increase in the use of space. Consequently, the spatial interests of the activities or functions involved are going to collide. As space becomes more scarce, conflicts of interest will intensify, and the plans for redevelopment will get more complex in order to solve the emerging problems. As both planning and implementation take a relatively long period, new technical options can help in finding solutions. Although the latter refers to a positive aspect of the planning and implementation process, it also introduces an element of technological uncertainty in the process. In this respect the concept of equifinality is relevant. Perrow (1984) described this concept as a manifestation of uncertainty in the planning process. As there is more than one option for finding a solution, equifinality can turn out to be a new source of conflict between the actors involved.

Public and private involvement

With reference to section 4.3, which dealt with the actors in the process, an autonomous feature in railway station area redevelopment is the dominant presence of both public and private parties. Both kinds of party are committed to one another, in trying to redevelop the area. However, not all parties are actively involved in the realization process. Public involvement in railway station area redevelopment extends itself also to those parties that display activities in this area, such as living, working, shopping, visiting, passing through, and travelling. From a negative point of view, support of indirectly involved parties is necessary, as they have considerable power to block redevelopment. Through either legal or political procedures they can yield power to block or slow down the redevelopment process. More positively formulated, when these groups support redevelopment plans, perhaps their activities within the territory may expand, and in an economic sense the area will profit from this intensified use. Therefore public support is of the utmost importance, either directly or indirectly.

Risk and risk management

In general the redevelopment of a railway station area implies an intensified use of an area that already has heavy demands made on it. In the literature three main views on risk and risk management are displayed (Fischhoff, 1981). The first is a technical point of view, and deals with the chance of accidents. This perspective is often taken by governments, but is generally under heavy attack. A second view is displayed by the concept that in cases such as railway station area redevelopment, technologically complex systems are linked to one another. Risks are displayed at two levels: within each complex system, and in the linkages between the systems. Complex systems are vulnerable by definition, as each part of the system adds to its vulnerability. As dependence grows between complex transport systems, such as bus and train, the linkage gets more vulnerable as well. Hence a new dilemma shows itself: whenever within a railway station area complex systems (such as transport) are optimized in order to reach their full potential, in economic terms development is most promising, but at the same time the risks will also be highest.

A third approach directs itself towards the acceptability of risks. This represents the most pragmatic of the three views. The measure of acceptability is determined by negotiation. Based upon the outcome of negotiation on the most preferred alternative, risks are calculated and authorities are consulted about public acceptability. As in the technical view, laymen are not involved in the discussion. Assessment of acceptability is exclusively in the hands of authorities and experts. Although risk and risk management certainly have a technical element in them, a pure technical variant of risk management is highly contrary to the high public involvement and public interest in risk situations.

This set of issues will run through the analysis of the cases in Part Two of the book, and they will be taken up again in the conclusions. Analysis of the cases will follow a similar format. First, the national planning context will be sketched. Second, railway station area redevelopment in each country will be introduced. Each chapter will then centre on an extensive analysis of one or two cases, touching on both the process and content aspects of the redevelopment, and will be closed by an evaluation. In Part Three the cases will be compared, and in the light of the issues raised in Part One, conclusions and an agenda for practice and research will be drawn up.

Part Two Cases

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