Re-imaging the gateline experience with HS2

  • Ben Crisp

The Challenge For two years HS2 Ltd had struggled with the problem of ticket barriers in train stations, or gatelines as they’re known in the industry, and what role they would play in the future of rail travel. They were working to find the best possible experience for customers accessing their stations, platforms and trains, while satisfying their own rigorous demands for reliability, safety, security, value for money and revenue protection. Looking for answers, they challenged us to accelerate the process and find tangible, innovative solutions to what gatelines would be in 2026. The Approach Drawing on insights from users and consumers, we first analysed over 40 industry studies and conducted 8 stakeholder interviews, in order to formulate in-depth background research on the issue at hand. We then combined conclusions from this with user-centered ethnographic research, involving observations, vox pop conversations and video analysis. With this background and context, we ran a 3-day Design Sprint with 29 stakeholders. We introduced them to our innovative Design Thinking techniques and tools, to co-create ideas and develop solutions. We then brought these ideas together to deliver a strategy for the future of gatelines, and also for rail stations themselves. The Impact New solutions conceived: five teams created five solutions, that we then collated to create a fully formed concept pitch for the future of HS2 rail stations. Outcomes accelerated: process rapidly accelerated from two years into six months. All outcomes came out of a three-day sprint. Industry activated: this work, alongside economic assessments, is feeding in to gateline strategy at HS2. Ethnography now being purposed for wider work around station design. 'This project was the best thing I did last year. I want to do another one. The problem solving, tangible outputs.' Johannah Randall, Head of Station Operations