Joy for campaigners as work start date revealed for Letchworth Railway Station lifts

Campaigners from the Leonard Cheshire Disability in Hitchin celebrate the decision by Network Rail t

Campaigners from the Leonard Cheshire Disability in Hitchin celebrate the decision by Network Rail to install lifts to the platforms at Letchworth Railway Station. Front L-R: Joan Kennedy, Kim Brooks, Matthew McEgan and Jake Gear Middle: Anita Down, Mary Hayes, Loretta Imamzade, Annette Miller and Dr Mark Vincent Back: Care supervisor Shelley Blake and Service manager Aileen Baker - Credit: Archant

CAMPAIGNERS who have repeatedly called for an accessible passenger lift to be installed at a railway station are celebrating, after finally being given a date for work begin.

Network Rail has confirmed a contractor has been appointed and work will start on September 30 on the passenger lifts at Letchworth Garden City Railway Station, following pressure from disabled action groups.

Along with their carers and staff from Leonard Cheshire Disability in Hitchin, the campaigners held a protest outside the station in April to bring back the lifts, which have been out of action since the 1980s.

The campaign, which has been backed by North East Herts MP Oliver Heald, has been ongoing since 1999.

Mr Heald said: “I am absolutely delighted that a start date has been set. The Government agreed to fund this scheme through Access to All and it has taken a long time to get to this point.

“I pay tribute to the campaign waged by local disabled groups and individuals and am glad that they have been successful.”

Funding for the lifts has already been secured but the work has been deferred for the past 13 years.

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Emma Lindsay, national campaigns manager at Leonard Cheshire Disability, was at the protest in April.

She said: “We are really pleased that Network Rail has appointed a contractor to make Letchworth Garden City Station accessible, and have given a timeline for the work they will be doing.

“It’s good to see that they have listened to our campaigners and have realised how important it is that disabled people can use the station.

“We will be watching closely to see that the work is completed on time. We would like to thank Mr Heald for his commitment to this campaign.”

Mark Vincent, a resident at Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Symonds House who was also at the protest, added: “I am very pleased with the outcome of our campaign.

“I am sure this will be of enormous benefit to all disabled people in the community, as well as to other able bodied individuals, like mums with prams and the elderly.”

The work is expected to be completed by early 2014.