Every rail station on the major new Crossrail project will now be step-free, following a successful two-year campaign by disabled and older people.
Transport for London (TfL) had already announced in September that Crossrail would be step-free from street-level to the train at every one of its London stations from the day it opens in 2019.
But the Department for Transport (DfT) has now announced a further £14 million funding to ensure that the three remaining inaccessible stations outside London – Langley, Taplow and Iver – will now also be step-free.
The announcement is another success for Transport for All (TfA), the user-led accessible transport charity that had been campaigning to persuade Crossrail, a TfL subsidiary, to make every one of its stations accessible.
The Crossrail route will serve 40 stations, connecting Reading and Heathrow airport in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, and will be fully operational by 2019, but campaigners were furious when it emerged that seven stations – Seven Kings, Maryland, Manor Park, Hanwell, Iver, Taplow and Langley – would not be completely step-free.
TfL and London’s Conservative mayor, Boris Johnson, announced in September that they had secured funding to install step-free access at the four London stations: Seven Kings, Maryland, Manor Park and Hanwell.
And this week the Liberal Democrat transport minister Baroness Kramer announced government funding for the three stations outside London.
Lianna Etkind, TfA’s campaigns and outreach co-ordinator, said: “This fantastic news means that disabled and older people will be able to use Crossrail with the same freedom and independence as everyone else.
“Transport for All has campaigned on this issue for over two years, and are delighted that DfT has funded a fully accessible Crossrail that London can be proud of.
“Making stations step-free benefits everyone, from people with luggage or shopping to parents with buggies.”
She said support for the campaign had been “truly inspiring”, with campaigners writing to their MPs, attending protests, and raising the issue with their local councils.
She added: “Hopefully, DfT’s decision represents a line in the sand so that never again can a new rail line be planned that is out of bounds to disabled and older people.”
Baroness Kramer said she was “delighted to confirm the funding of these important accessibility improvements”.
She added: “It is only right that everyone should be able to enjoy the huge benefits that Crossrail will bring.”
20 November 2014
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com