Your questions answered: pedestrian and cycle access around the National Railway Museum

The third piece in our ‘your questions answered’ series focuses on the York Central Partnership’s preferred access option for pedestrians and cyclists around the National Railway Museum.

You can view our two earlier pieces on Leeman Road and pedestrian and cycle access through York Central, by clicking on the links or via our News section.

Is the National Railway Museum’s plan for a Central Gallery the reason for the planned diversion of Leeman Road?

  • Primarily, Leeman Road is being diverted as a new purpose-built road through York Central will be created, which will enable the development of homes, the business district, a new Western entrance to the train station and a transport hub with easy interchange between bus and rail.
  • The decision to seek to divert Leeman Road was made by the York Central Partnership. It has been an aspiration since 2014 and was part of the ‘Seeking your views’ consultation in 2016.
  • It is an important part of the York Central masterplan as it minimises traffic flows in the proposed residential areas and allows the creation of a large public square outside the station, which will act as a gateway into the city and create level access from Leeman Road and Marble Arch into York Central. Alongside the new western access off Water End, it will also help to reduce traffic through Salisbury Terrace and the surrounding streets.
  • The Partnership’s decision to seek to divert Leeman Road has offered the National Railway Museum the opportunity to link its two major exhibition spaces with level access through the creation of a new Central Gallery.

 Why does the National Railway Museum want to create a Central Gallery?

  • The Museum has a world-class collection, but not currently a world-class space. A Central Gallery would unite both sides of the Museum and provide level access across the Museum for the first time, as well as providing additional exhibition space and enhanced visitor facilities. It will also create a space to showcase the latest innovations from the modern rail industry.
  • The enhancement of the Museum will benefit York residents, who make up 15% of the Museum’s visitors, with the creation of jobs and the overall economic impact of the Railway Museum’s Masterplan is estimated at £10 million per year.

What is the preferred access option through the National Railway Museum?

  • Following a consultation with local residents, where six alternative access options were put forward, and neighbours were invited to suggest new ideas, a preferred option has been selected which allows 24-hour pedestrian and cycle access through the Museum’s South Yard and pedestrian access through the Museum during opening hours.
  • This route would be safe and well-lit, with a high degree of natural surveillance. It is shorter than the route originally proposed earlier in 2018, as the Museum has agreed to allocate further land for cyclists and pedestrians to use. This option is also the one recommended by North Yorkshire Police as being best from a safety perspective.
  • Under this option, pedestrians could walk through the Central Gallery during Museum opening hours and outside these hours would be able to use a new cycle and pedestrian route through its South Yard. The pedestrian routes are shown in purple on Plan 1 below and the cycle route is highlighted in blue.
  • York Central Partnership research highlights the following impacts based on the shortest route alignment possible:
  • St Peter’s Quarter to Marble Arch: 636 metre journey increases to 700 metres taking 49 seconds longer for pedestrians
  • St Peter’s Quarter to the railway station West entrance: reduces from 700 metres to 630 metres and is 53 seconds faster for pedestrians
  • There will be an increase of 19 second for cyclists, compared with the current route. Cycle access is not practical during museum opening hours for safety reasons due to the high pedestrian footfall.

Plan 1 – Proposed access options through the museum site

Plan 3 – Proposed routes to the city centre and train station from St Peter’s Quarter

Why have the other options not been chosen?

  • Six alternative access options were put forward during the consultation and residents were invited to suggest new ideas. The options included not building a Central Gallery, creating an open sided canopy rather than an enclosed space, building a bridge over or through the Central Gallery and creating a tunnel under the Central Gallery.
  • Some of these options would require tunnels, bridges, ramps or lifts, which raise personal safety concerns as enclosed spaces can leave pedestrians and cyclists vulnerable, leading to the route not being used as it would be unsafe. There are also practical considerations, such as lifts breaking down, which also raises the question of whether they would be used.
  • The ramps and lifts also take additional time to access and exit, meaning they increase journey times and would be less convenient overall.
  • Other ideas suggested during the consultation included raising the Central Gallery above the road. The size of the national collection rail vehicles, however, means that they can only be practically and safely displayed at ground level.
  • Pre-application consultation with City of York Council Design Officers and Historic England also set an upper height limit on any development to maintain long distance views to York Minster and to ensure the maximum height was subservient to the existing height of the Great Hall and the Grade II*listed Station Hall building. A raised gallery would exceed this maximum permissible height.
  • The option to allow 24-hour pedestrian use of the enclosed Central Gallery, even with the provision of 24 hour security, still leaves the Museum’s collection, which is of national importance, vulnerable to risk of damage, together with safety risks to pedestrians.

Where can I find out more about the pedestrian and cycling plans around the National Railway Museum?

  • Further details and explanation of the reasons for choosing this pedestrian and cycle access is set out in the Planning Statement Addendum to the planning application for York Central. The application reference is 18/01884/OUTM and can be found at We welcome you to have your say as part of the planning application.

How can I get involved with the Museum’s plans?

  • The Museum has been undertaking engagement work with the local community as part of the York Central Partnership since 2016. It sought views and ideas as part of its drop-in exhibitions and the other consultation events run by the Partnership.
  • There will be further opportunities to input into the detailed proposals for the Museum, should the outline planning application be permitted. The Museum will continue to work with the local community as it works up designs for the Central Gallery, from Autumn 2019 onwards.

When would building work start on the Central Gallery?

  • If the Partnership’s outline planning application is approved, construction work on the Museum’s Central Gallery is expected to begin in 2022-23.

When would Leeman Road be diverted?

  • Subject to approval of the Partnership’s outline planning application, and a further planning application on the design of the highway, work will begin on the new road from Water End to Leeman Road tunnel in 2019. Its construction is anticipated to be completed in 2021.
  • The closure of Leeman Road will require a Highways Stopping Up Order to be granted by the Department for Transport.
  • Leeman Road would not be closed to vehicles until the new road is opened in 2021.
  • It is envisaged that pedestrians and cyclists would still be able to use the Leeman Road route until the construction of the Museum’s Central Gallery starts in 2022-23.
  • When work starts on the Central Gallery, the Railway Museum will provide temporary access through or around its South Yard while the works are being undertaken.