Opinion Former Article

TP Blog: Turning stations green

But at Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter interchange efforts are being made to spruce up passengers’ surroundings by introducing vegetable planters to the platforms, artwork installations and space for local people to meet, writes TP Editor Mike Walter.

It is hoped that the station can become a central hub for the community and give visitors a good impression of the local area.

The initiative is led by the Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District, which is thought to be the first such group to formally ‘adopt’ a station in this way. Volunteers are sought to get involved with the project and train operator West Midlands Railway is looking to host similar community engagement activities across its network of stations.

Jewellery Quarter’s station transformation is being led by local garden designer Gaynor Steele, who champions the idea of introducing trees, flowers and vegetables to urban environments. Planters on the platform will, she says, provide edibles for people to pick and taste, which could see commuters stopping on the platform for a sprig of garnish for their evening meal rather than dashing to the local supermarket.

We can only applaud the group’s work to improve the station, which goes to show that functional transport infrastructure can also serve an important community function and improve the happiness of users.

A tremendous next step would be for larger stations to encourage community groups to adopt them, helping many more rail passengers to engage with the natural environment and take an interest in their surroundings. And right now – in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week – it might also bring a little calm to those with more on their minds than the time of the next train.

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