08 March 2009

'Slow progress' for rail access

Story from BBC NEWS:

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Plans to make London railway stations more accessible to disabled people are behind schedule.

Thirteen stations should be wheelchair accessible by the end of 2009 but only five have so far been completed, Putney MP Justine Greening found.

Charity Scope said: "Accessible public transport is crucial to enable disabled people to go about daily business."

The Department for Transport said accessibility would be improved in a total of 40 London stations by 2015.


Since 2006 the Department for Transport (DfT) has given Network Rail £370m to carry out accessibility upgrades to stations as part of its Access For All scheme.

But in Parliamentary questions the DfT said planned upgrades had only been carried out on five of the 13 London stations, with a further three "nearing completion".

Miss Greening, Conservative MP for Putney and shadow minister for communities and local government, said the strategy was a "shambles".

"The government's botched handling of this scheme is a disgrace," she said.

"It is crucial to make public transport accessible to all, but yet again this government has been big on rhetoric to Londoners, but has failed to deliver."

“ Wheelchair users aren't going to go away ”
Rosemary Bolinger,
disability campaigner
Access has been improved at Balham, Herne Hill, Kingston, Purley and Orpington stations.

Disability campaigner Rosemary Bolinger said: "We've got the Olympics coming to London in 2012 and the Paralympics will also be coming.

"There are going to be more and more people around in wheelchairs, so it needs to be done."

Charity Scope added that better access for the disabled also eases access for the elderly and parents with baby buggies.

A DfT spokesman said plans to improve station access were being "taken forward".

"We are committed to delivering excellent services for all passengers at every stage of their rail journey," a DfT spokesman said.

"In total, 40 stations in London boroughs will have benefited by 2015 - five of these are completed, three are nearing completion and the remainder are in the design and development process."

Network Rail did not comment.

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