Plans to upgrade Reading West Station will not include lifts to allow disabled people access to the station as they have labelled them “unaffordable” in the £3.1 million project.

The two organisations behind the upgrade, Reading Borough Council and Great Western Railway, secured funding from the Berkshire Local Transport Body to perform a host of improvements to the station, but the council claims that adding lifts to the station will require a “full rebuild” of the station’s platforms.

This lack of lift will mean that disabled passengers who are unable to use stairs will be unable to move between the station’s two platforms.

Despite this, councillor Tony Page told In Your Area that the reform was welcome, saying: “This is a major refurbishment for Reading West station, the centrepiece of which will be a new station building and enhanced interchange at the Oxford Road entrance.

“There will also be enhancements to platform facilities and to safety and security.

“It is fair to say Reading West Station has been in need of a major facelift for many years.”

Further north, MP Graham Jones has expressed disappointment that Church and Oswaldtwistle station in Accrington has not been included in a scheme to provide better access to railway stations, as according to Northern, it does not meet the criteria.

The MP notes that the station only has access by stairs, making it inaccessible to some disabled and less mobile people on the Church side of the station.

Jones was informed by Raj Chandarana, the stakeholder manager at Northern, that as the stations were built in the Victorian era, resulting in many being “inaccessible to disabled people as well as the elderly and those with young children in pushchairs.”

He added that while Northern are working with the Department for Transport to make all of their stations more accessible, they were not able to submit an application for Church and Oswaldtwistle station as it did not meet the scheme’s key criteria, as there are other stations where an accessible railway station is further in proximity from a station which can be accessed by all.

In a letter to Jones, Chandarana wrote: “Unfortunately, we were unable to submit an application for Church & Oswaldtwistle Station under this scheme, as it did not meet key criteria, specifically in relation to proximity to an accessible railway station, as there are other stations which are further away from accessible stations.

“Whilst not ideal, our current disability policy can help constituents with mobility difficulties travel on our network, by providing alternative transport from an inaccessible station to the nearest accessible station.”

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Source: In Your Area/Lancashire Telegraph
Image: Flickr/Julian Walker

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