Station Community Transitions – A Matter of Push or Pull?
A growing trend in Swedish physical planning and (sub)urban regeneration, as response to the need for more dense urban environments, is the increased focus on Station communities. These environments constitute a possibility for urban regions to grow in a sustainable fashion, at least discursively. In this context, the Gothenburg region - generally planned for car use but with high ambitions in terms of an objective to double the use of public transportation until 2025 – stand before interesting challenges and opportunities. Several major infrastructural projects focusing on commuter traffic are planned for take off within the next decade. These will affect not only the regional center in the shape of a train tunnel under great parts of Gothenburg, but also neighboring municipalities with train stations along the commuter routes into Gothenburg central station.
From that background, in this report, three different municipalities, with stations located within a commuter distance of 20 minutes from that central station, are studied through the use of qualitative interviews and in some respect also document studies. Being informed by the same objective (i.e. the “doubling” of public transportation, a regional objective for all municipalities within the Gothenburg region), one could suspect that approaches on how to develop strategic places like communities around commuter train stations would have some resemblance. However, due to great variations in terms of push and pull factors, and not least differences when it comes to protagonists, urban identities and urban values expressed, what works in Mölnlycke in Härryda municipality doesn’t do so in Älvängen in Ale municipality, nor Floda, in Lerum municipality – and vice versa. This study shows that narration is just as important for the construction of station communities as are an advantageous geographical position along strategic train lines.
The context of this report is Catch MR (Cooperative approaches to transport challenges in Metropolitan Regions), an Interreg IVC project that has run from 2010 throughout 2012. Catch MR has gathered twelve public partners in seven European regions - Berlin, Budapest, Oslo, Vienna, Rome, Gothenburg and Ljubljana around issues of life quality and competitiveness in urban regions. The study has been conducted as part of the research project Cities as value networks, which is a Mistra Urban Futures project. Mistra Urban Futures is a research and development center with its seat located in Gothenburg, Sweden.