With about 3.5 m travellers passing through the railway station in Clermont-Ferrand in central France, it is undoubtedly the city’s most important transport hub. The city decided, however, that the improvement of its connections with other forms of transport was essential.
In its 2011 urban mobility plan Clermont-Ferrand outlined ways to further develop these exchanges. The project was completed in January 2015 after nearly 2 years of work. The station now includes direct, accessible and safe links between local and regional public transport, a bike-sharing depot and a taxi rank right outside the entrance.
Clermont-Ferrand has a population of 141 000, with around 281 000 in the urban centre. About 3.5 m passengers a year pass through its main railway station, which is served by intercity and regional train services operated by SNCF as well local and regional public transport. The local public transport network consists of one tram line and 24 regular bus lines, which are operated by T2C (the public transport operator of the Clermontoise agglomeration) and several private carriers operating a few lines. SMTC, the agglomeration’s public transport authority, is responsible for the implementation of urban public transport policy, financing and service contracts.
In 2011 the new PDU for the agglomeration was adopted, replacing the PDU from 2001. It covers Clermont-Ferrand as well as 21 surrounding municipalities.
In the 2011 PDU the improvement of the interchanges between the urban and regional public transport networks and other forms of transport such as cars and bicycles, was considered a priority. It was to be realised through an integrated set of actions, which included:
- Continuing the development of four transport hubs (the train station of Clermont-Ferrand and three secondary exchanges in the city: les Salins, les Pistes and La Pardieu);
- Co-ordinating better the different forms of public transport at the hubs through better information and communication;
- Creating or improving Park-and-ride (P+R) car parks;
- Establishing secure bike-parking at the hubs, P+R car parks and stations of regional lines;
- Guaranteeing the supply of public transport for P+R car-park users, and providing free parking for occasional users of public transport;
- Developing integrated pricing;
- Creating a Mobility Centre that provides regional transport information.
Clermont-Ferrand set a target for these actions to be delivered in less than 5 years, and assigned relevant stakeholders and a budget for each. Improving the main railway station included:
- Optimising the physical links between trains, buses, cars, taxis, bicycles and pedestrian infrastructure;
- Co-ordinating the timetables of each transport mode;
- Providing complete on-site multimodal travel information on display panels;
- Making this information accessible online and in the Mobility Centre.
In the PDU, the investment costs for these measures were budgeted at € 17 m, financed by a number of sources, including: the European Regional Development Fund, Region Auvergne, SNCF, Clermont-community, City of Clermont-Ferrand, TCMS-AC, and RFF.
After 22 months of work, the renewed station area was officially opened in January 2015, and the project was delivered on time and within the budget; the investment costs of €17 m were accurately forecast by the PDU.
The new hub now features direct, accessible and safe links between the local and regional public transport, a bike-sharing depot, bicycle parking and a taxi stop directly in front of the station. More specifically, the improvements consisted of:
- A completely redesigned pedestrian forecourt;
- Screens with real-time travel information on the arrival and departure times of trains, city and intercity buses, and coaches;
- New signs to help passengers locate interchanges;
- An underground pedestrian passage linking the platforms to surrounding streets;
- A dedicated bus line and bus stops directly in front of the station;
- Reducing the speed limit in the area around the station to 30 km/h to ensure the safety of pedestrians and cyclists;
- Installing facilities for passengers with disabilities. This included five new elevators, two at each end and three serving the central platforms; and tactile strips at the platforms for visually impaired travellers.
This first phase will be followed by the redevelopment of the interior of the train station (2015-2018), and increasing the capacity of its parking lot from 250 to 420 places. The integration of carpooling is also part of the second phase.
SMTC’s Patrick Ferri said that the main challenge was co-ordinating the large numbers of organisations involved in the redevelopment of the station. ‘The total period between the initial plans and the actual realisation therefore took about 10 years,’ he said, adding that the whole process required endurance and strong management skills, as well as good co-operation with all organisations involved.