Disabled train passengers victim of 'years of underfunding' and delays

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 July 2018

Campaigners Becky Jones, Alison Morgan and Andy Hull, appealing for better access on the Backwell side of Nailsea and Backwell Railway Station.

Campaigners Becky Jones, Alison Morgan and Andy Hull, appealing for better access on the Backwell side of Nailsea and Backwell Railway Station.

Archant

One in three disabled people have experienced problems using trains in the past year due to their disability - and campaigners in North Somerset have been calling for better access for 10 years.

Campaigners Becky Jones, Alison Morgan and Andy Hull, appealing for better access on the Backwell side of Nailsea and Backwell Railway Station.Campaigners Becky Jones, Alison Morgan and Andy Hull, appealing for better access on the Backwell side of Nailsea and Backwell Railway Station.

Leonard Cheshire commissioned a survey which revealed hundreds of disabled people have been unable to use railway stations due to a lack of step-free access.

Nailsea and Backwell Railway Station is one of the locations where disabled people and parents with pushchairs have difficulty accessing the facility.

There is no ramp on the south platform so disabled passengers have to get off at Bristol and catch a taxi back to Nailsea and Backwell.

Alison Morgan has been campaigning for better access at the station for a decade.

She said: “We have made some progress in the 10 years. We have raised awareness of the access issues at the station and GWR has pledged its commitment time and time again to resolving these issues; but it is so disappointing we are still unable to use our local station.

“We are still awaiting the outcome of the design consultation and costs for lifts at the station, which was commissioned at the start of this year.

“I appreciate we are talking large sums of money and detailed engineering work and there are several interested parties who have to be consulted but it is all too similar to the delays over the proposed ramp project in 2011 which led to it being shelved three years after conception.

“It is hard, 10 years down the line, to remain positive anything will change.

“GWR has invested in new trains with much-improved facilities for disabled passengers.

“My fellow campaigner Steve Ledbrook has travelled on the new trains from Bristol and is very impressed with the space available for wheelchair passengers.

“He would, however, prefer to travel from Nailsea and Backwell station, five minutes from his home, rather than have to rely on a taxi to take him to and from Bristol Temple Meads.

“We are the victims of years of underfunding and short-sighted lack of investment in our railways.”

Leonard Cheshire is calling on the Government to make sure all train operators provide accessible end-to-end journeys to enable disabled people to travel ‘independently’ and ‘easily’.

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