Ramps for Nailsea and Backwell station

CAMPAIGNERS in Nailsea and Backwell are celebrating a major victory after the government pledged �1million to build ramps at the towns’ railway station.

The Times reported in September how Nailsea pensioner Rita Booth collected 913 signatures from people in the town calling for better access to trains for disabled people.

In 2008 members of Backwell Access Group also appealed to First Great Western, which leases the station from Network Rail, for a ramp for wheelchair-users.

And mother-of-two Satoko Black, from Backwell, collected more than 294 signatures from passengers in two weeks when she found she was unable to get her pushchair or bicycle up the steps without help.

There is currently no ramp on the south platform so disabled passengers have to warn train operators a day in advance of when they will be travelling to get assistance onto the train and get off at Bristol on their return journey and catch a taxi.

Rail passengers across the country are set to benefit from easier journeys after Rail Minister, Norman Baker, approved more than �37.5million of government funding to improve stations under a new Access For All Mid-Tier programme.

Upgrades to stations will include new lifts, ramps and raised easy access humps on platforms as well as new accessible toilets.

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Funding bids were made in April this year for station access projects requiring between �250,000 and �1million.

Norman Baker said: “Rail journeys don’t start and end at the carriage door.

“For many people, whether they are elderly, disabled, or parents with prams, getting from the station entrance and onto the train can be the hardest part of their trip.

“Despite the need to reduce the deficit, we are committed to improving access to stations across the country as this can make a huge difference to people’s lives.

“In recognition of this, and of the large number of high quality bids we received for this funding, we are today announcing projects worth more than double the �17m budget we originally allocated to this programme.”

Rita, aged 85 of Godwin Drive, regional officer for Pensioners’ Voice South West, said: “I’m over the moon about it.

“With all these cuts at the moment I wasn’t holding my breath but credit where it’s due, this government has come up with the goods.

“It will make people’s lives much easier.

“I’m grateful to all the people who put their signatures to the petition.”

Alison Morgan, of Backwell Access Group said: “This is fantastic news.

“This is a great day for all the people who campaigned for it.”

The improvements are being funded as part of the Department for Transport’s Access for All scheme which aims to improve access to railway stations.

All work at the stations will be completed by March 2014.

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