Whitton and Barnes stations get cash for step-free access

This Is Local London: Station: Baroness Susan Kramer with South West Trains development manager-Malcolm Page and head of station property Alistair Wright Station: Baroness Susan Kramer with South West Trains development manager-Malcolm Page and head of station property Alistair Wright

Whitton station will have step-free access within five years after it was included in a national list of 42 stations earmarked for improvement.

Parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport Stephen Hammond confirmed Whitton, as well as Barnes, would be part of the £100m Access for All funding scheme on Tuesday, April 29.

The announcement follows years of campaigning to renovate the station before the Rugby World Cup next year.

Whitton councillor Liz Jaeger said: “This is wonderful news for Whitton residents and comes after many years of campaigning by local people and councillors.

“The scheme should see step-free access to the station with lifts and other improvements.”

Fellow Whitton Councillor Gareth Elliott said: “This is fantastic news for Whitton’s residents currently cut off from the station.

“For the elderly, those with children and the disabled this will act as a lifeline.

“This is not the end however and I will continue to push the RFU and Network Rail to build in this announcement to deliver a station fit for purpose and ready for the future.”

Work is due to commence in April next year and is set to be completed by March 2019.

Mr Hammond, who attended a public meeting in Whitton about the station earlier this month, said the plans would improve accessibility for a range of different people.

He said: “The selected stations will, subject to a feasible design being possible, receive an accessible route into the station and to and between each platform.

“These measures will make a real difference to people’s lives, not only opening up access to leisure and employment for disabled rail passengers but making it easier for those with heavy luggage or children in buggies to use the network.”

Liberal Democrat rail minister Baroness Kramer, who visited the station on Tuesday said the government was “transforming railways through record levels of investment”.

She added: “These improvements will make a real difference to the lives of disabled passengers and those with limited mobility, allowing them to get to work and pursue leisure activities more easily.

“That’s good news for them and good news for the economy.”

Access for All hopes to deliver step-free routes at more than 150 other stations by 2015, while a further 1,100 stations have benefited from smaller-scale improvements.

Jenny Saunders, head of stations for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said: “This will help to build even further on the work we have been doing over the last few years to improve accessibility at our stations.

“We look forward to working with local authorities and other partners on the delivery of these schemes which will provide significantly improved access for passengers using these stations.”

A spokesman for campaign group, Transport for All, said: “Step-free access to stations enables us not only to use the train but also to get to work, see friends and family and enjoy all that London has to offer.

“However, we remain concerned about cuts to Access for All funding – a nonsensical step in the light of evidence showing the economic benefits of step-free access.”

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