Campaigner calls for improvements to disability access at railway station
PUBLISHED: 06:55 01 January 2020
A campaigner wants disability access to be improved at a railway station.
Campaigners have been embroiled in an 11-year battle to improve access at Nailsea and Backwell Railway Station, as there is no ramp on the south platform, so disabled passengers have to get off at Bristol and catch a taxi back to Nailsea.
Alison Morgan is a wheelchair user who has been actively campaigning for improved access to her local station. The station had the Government's Access For All funding in 2011 but did not use it and subsequently lost the funding.
Alison said: "My local station is less than five minutes from my home, but the nearest accessible station is a 25-minute drive away. If Nailsea was accessible, I would be able to travel spontaneously and independently.
"I would love to be able to use the train to go to the theatre, museums, art galleries and other events without having to ask someone to take me."
In 2016, Great Western Railway (GWR) decided to install lifts instead due to fears the ramp could destabilise the embankment, and it has spent £400,000 developing the scheme.
The project has since been aborted, as it would cost more than £10million to complete.
Installing the lifts would cost £4.9million, and GWR confirmed it would also need to spend money on widening the platforms and installing CCTV and lighting and upgrading the power supply for the lifts.
A GWR spokesman said: "GWR has taken some time to see if there are any other workable options including the potential to address one side of the station through work on the old ramp.
"This has been ruled out, as it would not meet the needs of mobility-impaired users, nor would it be permitted under railway standard safety rules.
"This is not the outcome we wanted, but we will be unable to fund such significant extra cost without substantial financial support."
Alison said: "It is not reasonable to wait this long for trains and stations to be accessible.
"Three of my friends with progressive MS who campaigned alongside me have died in the time it has taken rail companies to decide to do nothing.
"The government may have decades more to wait - some of us aren't so fortunate."