Disabled rail travellers get a raw deal

PLANS by the Department for Transport (DfT) to upgrade the forecourt outside Hitchin railway station to make it more accessible is welcome news. For far too long members of the public have had to put up with what is a sub-standard free-for-all system whic

PLANS by the Department for Transport (DfT) to upgrade the forecourt outside Hitchin railway station to make it more accessible is welcome news.

For far too long members of the public have had to put up with what is a sub-standard free-for-all system which is at best chaotic and worse downright dangerous during busy morning and evening rush hours.

Hopefully the £100,000-plus investment, which comes as part of the DfT's £370m Access for All programme, will go some way to resolving this problem.

While I applaud this investment there is still a more important issue when it comes to railway stations in Comet country: access to platforms for people with mobility problems.


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An example is Letchworth GC railway station where there are unused service lifts but no passenger lifts and nothing to help disabled and parents with pushchairs get down to the platform.

For years now this has been a problem and First Capital Connect has a policy of putting its customers in a taxi to be taken to Stevenage instead where access is easier.

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In the DfT document which announced Hitchin's £100,000 improvements, hidden away was the news that Letchworth station will receive a meagre £1,820 for a handful of non-slip pads for stairwells.

If this is the only investment the station is going to get over the next few years, this is not good enough.

There are talks ongoing between First Capital Connect and other organisations about providing lifts at Letchworth railway station - something Oliver Heald MP and Stuart Kenny of the Heritage Foundation have been calling for for years.

But until now investment for these much needed improvements has not been forthcoming and this has reaffirmed my belief that in some areas disabled railway users are still being treated as second class citizens and this is something which we should put an end to immediately.

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