Friday, 22 June 2018

Campaign for lifts at village station faces £1.2m funding hurdle

A GORING community group is campaigning for passenger lifts to be installed at the village station.

A GORING community group is campaigning for passenger lifts to be installed at the village station.

Mobility Issues Group for Goring and Streatley says the footbridge is difficult for elderly and disabled travellers to use.

It wants rail bosses to replace it with a sheltered bridge linked by three lifts — one at the main entrance in Gatehampton Road and one on each of the two platforms.

A similar system was installed at Twyford station in 2009.

Network Rail is due to replace the footbridge with a higher one to make room for overhead power lines as part of the rail electrification programme.

The work, which is expected to cost £2million, is due for completion by 2016 but no start date has been announced.

The mobility group says this would be an ideal opportunity to install lifts but Network Rail says it cannot afford the extra £1.2million the work would cost.

The campaigners have also approached the Department for Transport and train operator First Great Western but neither has offered funding.

Now they are appealing for people who support the idea to get in touch in the hope that if enough come forward, the rail authorities will have to do the work. Group chairman John Boler said: “Under disability laws, the work will have to be carried out eventually so there’s scope for considerable cost savings because they won’t have to come back and do it later if they do it now.

“With an aging population, there are more and more rail travellers who would benefit. Although we represent people with mobility problems, it would also have wider benefits for people with pushchairs or heavy luggage.”

Network Rail is responsible for carrying out accessibility improvements but has no legal duty to fund them. A train operator can pay for such work at its discretion.

Most funding comes from the DfT’s Access for All programme, which has spent £370million at more than 1,000 stations since 2006 and will be spending another £100million in this way over the next six years.

A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “Network Rail has received funding from government to replace the footbridge on a like-for-like basis.

“We are not in a position to provide additional features such as lifts unless additional funding becomes available.”

A First Great Western spokesman said: “The UK’s rail infrastructure dates back 160 years and we know many of our stations need work to improve accessibility. To ensure best value for money, we have to decide which improvements will benefit the highest number of people.

“We will consider accessibility at Goring and Streatley in future works programmes.”

Transport minister Norman Baker said: “We know that the quality and accessibility of stations is an important issue for passengers.

“While we cannot guarantee Goring and Streatley will be included in the Access for All programme, it will be considered along with other inaccessible stations across the country.”

To support the group’s campaign, email Mr Boler at boler.john@googlemail.com

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