Petition for step-free Bedfordshire stations presented to government

Rhiannon Meades, Julian Vaughan and Fiona Carey outside the Department for Transport before handing

Rhiannon Meades, Julian Vaughan and Fiona Carey outside the Department for Transport before handing over the petition. Picture: Bedfordshire Rail Access Network - Credit: Archant

A petition for step-free access at Biggleswade and other Bedfordshire stations has been presented to the government.

Campaigners from the Bedfordshire Rail Access Network team travelled to the Department for Transport on Friday to hand over the 11,500-signature petition demanding better accessibility for rail users with disabilities.

Friday was the last day that bids for the Access for All scheme funding for access improvements at stations across the UK could be submitted to the DfT.

The petition was just one aspect of a campaign, which included a visit to Biggleswade from shadow transport ministers and mentions of the campaign, both in the House of Commons and the European Parliament.

Campaigner – and chair of North East Beds Labour Party – Julian Vaughan said: “The lack of step-free access at train stations across Bedfordshire is a disgrace and the petition has clearly shown the strength of feeling on this issue.

“It is simply not acceptable that people with disabilities are unable to travel independently.

“Further, if you improve access for those with disabilities, you improve it for everyone – including elderly people and parents with young children, who also struggle to access station platforms.

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“We are cautiously optimistic that Biggleswade and Flitwick stations will soon receive the funding to enable step-free access.

“However, our campaign will continue to demand improvements at other stations in Bedfordshire, such as Arlesey and Sandy, which still present huge problems for disabilty access. We will also be insisting that people with disabilities are involved at all stages of the process”.

The campaign for a step-free Biggleswade station has been supported by North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt, who has led several meetings over the past 12 months on the matter.

He told the Comet: “This is the culmination of work over a long period of time and I am grateful to all those who have come together in support of creating step free access at Biggleswade and other stations.

“With Biggleswade in particular, our bid for Access for All funding has been submitted and there is now a real prospect of success. I have made personal representations to the Minister on behalf of Biggleswade Rail Users and hope to report back with positive news in due course.”

The Department for Transport will announce the successful stations in April next year.