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Disabled Access (Stations)

Volume 575: debated on Thursday 6 February 2014

The Equality Act 2010 requires station operators to address the needs of disabled travellers. So far, 153 station access projects have been authorised, of which 38 are on site and the remainder have already been completed.

The policy of East Midlands Trains, which runs trains through Kidsgrove station in my constituency, is that

“if you want to travel to and from stations which are inaccessible, you can do so at no extra cost.”

But would it not make far more sense for the Government to approve the plans for disabled access at Kidsgrove in April? This is a real cost-of-living issue. It would be much cheaper for the Government to do that, and much better for disabled people.

The Government have announced the provision of a further £100 million to extend the scheme to 2019. In order to qualify, stations must meet three important criteria. We expect to announce 53 projects in April that have been approved under the scheme.

May I urge the Minister to ensure, when he announces those projects, that Alfreton station, which is in my constituency, is included? Disabled access to both platforms is long overdue, and it really should be provided in the next year.

The criteria that we apply when assessing stations for the purposes of the scheme are the footfall—if that is the right word to use—of disabled people at stations, the level of use, and the number of disabled people in the area.

Just one in five railway stations is fully accessible to disabled passengers, but from 2014 the Minister is cutting funds for the Access for All programme from £43 million a year to £25 million. His Department has said that involving disabled organisations in decisions about which stations should have priority

“would add little value to the process”.

How can people with disabilities have any trust that the Government are on their side?

We are continuing the scheme that was initiated by the last Government. By 2015, 75% of journeys will be step-free, as opposed to 50% in 2006.