Ainsdale Station

CEEQUAL Excellent (75.9%) – Whole Team Award
Version 5, December 2018 | North West UK

Winner – CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievement Awards 2019 – Community & Stakeholder Relations

Client: Merseyrail
Designer: Owen Ellis Architects
Contractor: Morgan Sindall

Assessors: Lucinda Farrington (Seriously Green), Rachel Waggett (Warrington Borough Council)

Project Summary

Ainsdale Station lies at the heart of the small town of Ainsdale in Merseyside. It is operated by Merseyrail on behalf of Merseytravel with Network Rail as the landlord. The station consisted of a series of small buildings which were nearing life expiry and did not provide good customer facilities. Significant renewals were required which was seen as an opportunity by Merseyrail, as well as Network Rail and Merseytravel as an opportunity to modernise and future proof the station as well as to greatly enhance customer facilities.

This was also the ideal opportunity to implement the Merseyrail goals and aspirations to deliver a truly sustainable station (‘Eco-station’) for the local community as well as following the CEEQUAL model striving for an Excellent rated scheme. The learning from this scheme would be incorporated into smaller lower value schemes spreading the benefits.
The objectives of the scheme was to deliver:

  • A new, modern station at the heart of a local community;
  • New purpose built ‘Eco-station’;
  • Improved waiting facilities, toilets and customer information screens;
  • Improved customer security with a new bespoke CCTV scheme externally monitored;
  • A purpose-built facility for the local police to use as a base at a low cost;
  • Reduced operational costs and impact on the environment by incorporating renewables and rainwater harvesting.

Funding was secured from Network Rail (maintenance budget), the National Station Improvement Programme and Merseytravel.

Project Strategy

The sustainability requirements and aspirations were clearly set out from the initial concept of the station redevelopment and were key requirements to be maintained during value engineering exercise.

People and Communities

Community consultation was undertaken at design concept stage. The views expressed by the public at this well attended meeting were listened to and where appropriate, the scheme was adapted to take these into account. For example, changes were made to the design of the tower following on from ‘gun turret’ comments, whilst still maintaining the key feature which allows for natural lights to flood the concourse area. Following on from concerns from residents of a neighbouring street in relation to a new car park entrance, the team worked with Highways for double yellow lines to be painted on this road to prevent overflow cars parking on the narrow street.

The station was kept open throughout the whole scheme ensuring passenger disruption was kept to an absolute minimum. This liaison continued throughout the construction phase with a temporary shelter added to the platform when no other shelter was available due to the works. Changes were also made to the access ramp following on from passenger comments.

The scheme also ensured a police presence continued in the town following on from the closure of the local police station. A purpose built facility was incorporated into the station design with limited operational costs.

Liaison was undertaken with the Station Community Partnership, Ainsdale Civic Society in relation to limited disruption to their planters during the works. On completion of the project new and additional planters are being provided for the group, to enable them to continue ‘greening’ the platforms and providing a habitat for insects.

Land Use and Landscape

This scheme is the development of a brownfield site.

Ecology and Biodiversity

Options were limited in relation to ecology and biodiversity due to the small footprint of the station, however, planters have been fitted on the station platform for wildflowers, which are of a significant value to species such as bees and butterflies. Bat and bird boxes were also fitted on retained trees as per ecologists recommendations.

Physical Resources – Use and Management  (Energy, Water, Materials, Waste)

The scheme was designed to deliver long-term benefits in relation to operational costs and impact on the environment.

  • Rainwater harvesting system to supply water to the public and staff toilets;
  • LED lighting throughout as well as PIRs on lower occupancy rooms;
  • 46.2m2 of solar panels to reduce grid energy requirements – giving a total capacity of the system as 7.56kWh which equates to 5987.52 kWh per annum and saving 3,400 kg CO2 per annum. This provides energy for the whole station throughout the day with no need for grid energy;
  • Various design changes were made that improved resource efficiency of the project, including:
    o Change of ‘stone oval’ to a lightweight frame and cladding design, which enabled reduced foundations and structural steelworks frame;
    o Change of cycle storage design from a building to a cage, requiring less materials and foundations;
    o Change to the car park design slowing more of the existing surfacing to be retained;
    o Retention of existing lighting columns, only changing heads to LED;
    o Retention of original footbridge instead of a new build, which was refurbished to an excellent standard.
    o Reuse of excavated material which was re-graded and classed for re-use in permanent works minimising waste to landfill and new materials required for back filling;
    o Change of piling from concrete piles to stone columns/ground remediation (reducing the need for concrete works on site and spoil off site) and programme benefits;
    o Reuse of existing platform furniture which were taken off site, refurbished and replaced.
  • Energy usage dashboard on display in the main concourse to share with the public on energy and water saving measures;
  • The thermal insulation levels to the roof, walls and floor elements exceeds the building regulation requirements;
  • The glazed areas incorporate high performance double glazed argon filled units;
  • Concourse area heating is low energy over door heaters, rather than fully heated spaces, to ensure they are comfortable whilst not wasting heat and thus energy from the automatic doors;
  • The concourse areas are highly glazed to decrease the dependence on artificial lighting;
  • The building has been designed with canopy overhangs over the highly glazed areas to reduce overheating and the need for artificial cooling. The concept of the auto doors opening and closing with regular trains will reduce the heat gain and promote ventilation.

Benefits of using CEEQUAL

  • Reduced operational energy consumption and cost due to the use of renewables.
  • Reduced operational water use and cost due to the rainwater harvesting system.
  • Value engineering exercise reduced costs of key elements of the scheme – direct and indirect.
  • Value Engineering achieved savings of £1.1m.
  • Operational electricity costs reduced by 46%.

CEEQUAL has represented value for money for the following reasons:
• The structured assessment and questions allows the focus on how improvements can be made as you go through the process.
• The Assessors advice and assistance was invaluable.
• Enabled a station redevelopment to be more than just a normal typical station, but something that the local community could be proud of.

What were the main challenges for the project and how were these overcome?

  • The construction tenders came in over-budget so a de-scoping and value engineering exercise was required, whilst still retaining the key environmental benefits.
  • De-scoped additional platform works which were not a key part of the main station redevelopment.
  • Value engineering exercise identified where the ‘oval stone’ tower could be replaced with a lightweight frame and cladding which would also see a reduction in the foundations required.
  • The commitment to achieving CEEQUAL excellent on this scheme prevented easy to de-scope initiatives such as solar panels and rainwater harvesting from being cut.
  • Reuse of existing material and reuse of existing assets.

What were the drivers and perceived benefits for undertaking a CEEQUAL assessment on this project?


  • No planning requirement (permitted development) nor was this a franchise or concession requirement.
  • Key driver was to be a leader in sustainable development, delivering a truly sustainable station to meet the needs of the local community as well as delivering the environmental sustainability strategy goal to reduce our impact on the environment.


  • The commitment to achieve CEEQUAL excellent would lead to a station fit for the local community and the future – fulfilling our ‘eco-station’ concept. Meeting the needs of our customers whilst reducing the operational running costs.

How did the use of CEEQUAL influence the outcomes of the project? What was done differently because of the CEEQUAL process?

  • The use of CEEQUAL ensured operational costs of running the station were significantly reduced.
  • Early community and local councillor buy-in meant the end result was close to our passengers’ hearts, they had been on the journey with us.
  • A more thorough review of the risks and opportunities was undertaken, which prevented the focus being just on resources. Although limited opportunities due to the footprint of the project retaining and improving biodiversity was incorporated into the scheme.

What elements of this project highlight best practice and innovation?

  • The two public forums held were not a tick box exercise and was not a planning requirement. Feedback and challenges received at the events were incorporated into the design.
  • The community needs were at the core of this scheme – with early councillor and community liaison and accommodation for the local police designed in from the start.
  • Ground remediation (stone columns) in lieu of conventional concrete piles. The benefits were commercial, reduced programme and reduced impact on the local community.

Ainsdale station has been a collaborative effort between Merseyrail, Merseytravel, Network Rail and the Department of Transport and the final product is something we can all be really proud of. It represents the best in being environmentally friendly and provides our passengers at the station with better technology, facilities and an overall improved experience.

Merseyrail have taken significant steps in recent years and by embracing the CEEQUAL process for our significant schemes and the achievement of CEEQUAL excellent whole team award for Ainsdale station is demonstrating we are continuing to lead the way.

– Client, Andy Heath, Managing Director, Merseyrail Electrics 2002 Ltd

The initial Merseyrail brief was that Ainsdale had to be an “Eco Station”, to align with their future strategy and vision. This drove an ‘eco’ and sustainable approach from the very start, where we designed eco features into the building, such as air source heat pumps, solar panels, enhanced insulation / thermal performance levels to exceed the building regulation requirements, rainwater harvesting systems, energy usage screens etc. Introducing the CEEQUAL process in to the project from the start was intended to represent how “Eco” the station actually was/is in real and overall terms! The CEEQUAL Assessor “Seriously Green Ltd” assisted greatly in pushing for information and evidence for the detailed design stage and construction stage questions – they had a very ‘hands on’ and ‘teamwork’ approach, which helped the process. We are proud to have been part of the team to achieve CEEQUAL ‘excellent’ rating at both design and construction stages, and it is something Merseyrail can be proud to add to their portfolio of eco stations.

– Designer, Will Barralet, Director Owen Ellis Architects

One of the challenges around this scheme also became one of the key benefits and assisted in achieving the CEEQUAL excellent rating. The value engineering challenge drove the project to be as sustainable as possible by using reclaimed materials where ever possible, allowing for a decrease in material use, which had the knock-on effect of minimising local traffic and even a reduction in programme length. The whole team worked well together to achieve and surpass the project aims – from the Client – Merseyrail, Designer – Owen Ellis Architects, Morgan Sindall and their supply chain, and not forgetting the CEEQUAL Assessor.

– Principal Contractor, Gary Tinsley, Project Manager, Morgan Sindall

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