Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Big lift for station campaign

A CALL for passenger lifts at Goring station is closer to being answered.

A CALL for passenger lifts at Goring station is closer to being answered.

Transport minister Norman Baker has confirmed his department may now fund the project after more than 1,000 residents signed a petition calling for it.

He has asked Network Rail to investigate the cost and feasibility of installing lifts when the station’s footbridge is rebuilt.

Network Rail is replacing the structure with a taller one next year to make way for electrical cables. This will cost about £2m but the lifts would cost at least £1.2m more, which the company says it cannot afford.

Train operator First Great Western has also declined to pay for them.

It is hoped that the Department for Transport will fund the work through its Access for All programme.

The scheme has allocated £100 million for station improvements over the next six years. The Mobility Issues Group for Goring and Streatley, which represents the village’s disabled and elderly residents, started lobbying for the lifts last year.

It says three should be built, one on each of the station’s platforms, and connected by the new footbridge.

The group launched its petition in April with support from MP John Howell. Mr Howell presented it to Parliament the following month.

He also wrote to transport minister Norman Baker urging him to back the scheme.

The mobility group met earlier this month with senior managers from Network Rail, who told them about the latest development. Chairman John Boler said: “Building lifts at the same time as the new footbridge has got to be the cheapest way forward and we are sure the study will show that.

“We have been left in no doubt that the lifts will be built and that the needs of Goring and Streatley will be treated as the most important on this stretch of the line.

“Network Rail clearly wanted us to be content and even congratulated us on the effectiveness of our campaigning.

“We have clearly become a bit of a thorn in the flesh of the Department for Transport and it seems as though they want us off their backs.

“We are pleased, albeit cautiously. They wanted to reassure us as much as they could but in the end the government will have the final word. We have been very lucky to have the active support of John Howell and it is through his help that we have got this far.”

Mr Howell said: “‘I am pleased that the provision of step free access at Goring Station is being seriously considered.

“The major alterations needed to the station offer a unique opportunity and we need to take advantage of it. The Secretary of State for Transport’s reply advising me that rail officials were carrying out work to determine whether they can meet the required technical specifications was good news.

“There is still a way to go but I remain optimistic.”

A Network Rail spokeswoman said the company had been asked to carry out the study and the work would be carried out in the coming months but there were “no definite timescales”.

The Department for Transport did not respond to requests for comment.

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