European High-speed Train Station Areas: the Renaissance of the Railway Station

European High-speed Train Station Areas: the Renaissance of the Railway Station


M de Jong, University of Technology Delft, NL


Some station areas are successful in reaping the rewards of an HST connection, others are not. This is influenced by many different factors that are analysed on the basis of 10 cases in Northwest Europe.


In the past decades, a pan European network of high-speed trains (HST) is being developed. Governments on all levels are aiming to connect their constituency to this network, basing this policy on various arguments. One of the main arguments is the claim that the HST can function as a motor of development of inner cities. But how successful is this really? What can we learn from the experiences in the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Belgium, and France? How can we improve station areas where high-speed trains will stop? How can we use this experience for developing the HST network?

In the paper I will look at economic success and failure for the first 500 metres around ten Northwest European station areas. These are located around stations that are connected to the high-speed train network: Amsterdam South, Arnhem, Rotterdam Central, Utrecht Central, Aachen Hbf, Frankfurt Hbf, Ashford International, London St Pancras, Brussels South, and Lille Europe. Many of these station areas have been redeveloped, or are being redeveloped as we speak. Others have remained more or less the same, or still remain to be redeveloped in the coming years.

Successes or failures
Some of these cases are successes; they have led to an important role for the railway station. The city centre where they are located has truly improved, and the economic impact is huge. Other locations suffer from a lack of investments, little commercial interest and empty buildings. A remarkable fact is that the general perception of success or failure does not always align with economic success. The Lille Europe case proves to be rather unsuccessful, with low office and retail prices and empty buildings. Meanwhile the Amsterdam South station area is a commercial success before station area reconstruction has even started, even though public opposition to redevelopment is quite serious.

Success factors
The regional economy, regional public transport accessibility, car accessibility, mixed use, urban embeddedness, and not in the least the image of the station area all influence the development of the station area. The paper addresses these factors in the specific station areas that have been investigated. It argues what role they played in the success and failure of these cases. On the basis of these findings, suggestions will be made for developing station areas, as well as for developing and connecting to the European HST network.


Association for European Transport