Tuesday 15 December 2015
Wheelchair access to railway stations
The petition of residents of the Sherwood constituency,
Declares that the platform at Kirkby-in-Ashfield train station is not accessible to wheelchair users; further that this is discriminatory and adversely affects the quality of life of those who require a wheelchair to get around as it prevents them from being able to travel in a dignified and independent fashion; further that the platform at Kirkby-in-Ashfield train station should be fully accessible to all train users; and further that another local petition on this matter was signed by 472 individuals.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to put measures in place to ensure that the platform at Kirkby-in-Ashfield train station is accessible to wheelchair users.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mark Spencer, Official Report, 24 November 2015; Vol. 602, c. 1329.]
Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Claire Perry):
The Government are committed to improving accessibility at railway stations. However, many of the stations date from a time when the needs of disabled customers were simply not considered, and at present only around 460 of our 2,500 stations have step free access to and between every platform.
The Government have therefore continued with the Access for All programme, launched in 2006, which by 2019-20 will have provided step free access at more than 200 stations and has already delivered smaller scale access improvements at over 1200 stations.
In 2013, the DfT asked the rail industry to nominate stations for the latest tranche of Access for All funding. Sixty eight stations were chosen from the 278 nominated. The stations were selected according to their annual passenger numbers, weighted by the incidence of disability in the area (using Census data). The preferences of the train operating companies, local factors such as proximity to a hospital and the availability of any third party funding were also taken into account. A number of stations were also chosen to ensure a fair geographical spread across the UK.
East Midlands Trains nominated 11 of their stations, but did not put forward Kirkby-in-Ashfield. It could not therefore be considered for funding. All of the available funding is now allocated until at least 2019. Should further funding become available in the future we will commission new nominations for projects, but it will be for the train operators to prioritise their own nominations.
Where passengers are unable to use a particular station then the train operating company is obliged to provide alternative transport at no additional cost. This obligation is part of their licence to operate issued by the Office of Rail and Roads, as well as helping to meet the Equality Act 2010 requirement to provide reasonable access to their services. In most cases the operator will provide an accessible taxi to the next station that can be used.