Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Station lifts and footbridge may be in place by summer

PASSENGER lifts could be up and running at Goring station by the summer.

PASSENGER lifts could be up and running at Goring station by the summer.

They will be installed by Network Rail as part of the work on a new £3.5million footbridge, which could be finished within weeks.

There will be one lift in each of the bridge’s three supporting columns and they will be linked by a covered walkway, similar to the arrangement at Twyford station.

Construction started in November 2014 and was meant to finish last summer but fell behind due to several unforeseen delays.

Workmen uncovered a pit beneath one of the station platforms which was thought to be a wine cellar or an air raid shelter but turned out to be a disused cess pit.

They had to stop working while its historic significance was assessed.

There was another delay when workmen damaged signalling cables which had been laid in the Seventies without any markings.

Then the Lancashire company that is building the new bridge had to halt work when its factory was flooded in December.

The station’s Thirties footbridge had to be replaced as it wasn’t tall enough for the overhead cables which will be installed as part of the electrification of the main line.

When Network Rail announced the project four years ago, it said it would not install lifts as this would be too expensive.

However, the company changed its mind after the Goring mobility issues group organised a petition which more than 1,000 people signed and Henley MP John Howell presented to Parliament. The lifts will be run by Great Western Railway and could be in use 24 hours a day.

The company hopes to monitor them by CCTV while the station is unmanned and is trialling a similar system at Twyford.

John Boler, who chairs the mobility group, said he was not concerned by the delays.

He said: “The crucial thing is that we’ve secured a commitment to the work after arguing our case robustly with Mr Howell’s support.

“The staff at Network Rail have been extremely helpful in informing us about how things are progressing. We enjoy a very constructive relationship.”

His group has also been given £7,000 by Great Western Railway to investigate widening an 80m section of pavement in Wallingford Road. Parts of that stretch, which is the main approach to the station, are less than a metre wide so there is barely enough space for wheelchair users.

The work is likely to require expansion on to an embankment owned by Network Rail, which is yet to give permission but has agreed to leave space when it installs a new fence later this year. The company will meet the group to discuss the issue next month.

Great Western Railway says it might be possible to narrow the road instead as it is fairly wide in that area. Its grant will pay for an engineer’s report to weigh up all the options.

Cash has also been pledged by the Gatehampton Trust, Goring Parish Council, Goring Gap News and the Swan at Streatley.

Mr Boler said: “That pavement is becoming more of a hot topic because of Goring’s emerging neighbourhood plan. More new houses could be built in that area and there is a lot more discussion of highways problems in the village generally.

“However, as far as we’re concerned, the driving force is to complement the new lifts at the station. We had a clear idea of all the accessibility improvements which were needed and this was always one of them.”

• On Monday, Goring Parish Council agreed to commission the report on the mobility group’s behalf as it can reclaim VAT, which will reduce the cost of the  project.

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