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Rail Network: Accessibility

Volume 693: debated on Thursday 29 April 2021

What steps he is taking to improve accessibility for people with physical and hidden disabilities who use the rail network. (914919)

We are making stations more accessible and improving staff training and passenger assistance. The disabled persons railcard reduces fares, and better, accessible trains are coming into service.

Only 40% of railway stations in Greater Manchester have step-free access—that is 38 out of 93 stations. This is significantly lower than the north-west region as a whole, which is at 63%, and the national average at 61%. Mayor Andy Burnham has called for all railway stations in Greater Manchester to be fully accessible by 2025. According to the charity Leonard Cheshire, it would take just 1% to 3% of annual transport spending to make the rail network accessible by 2030, so what steps has the Minister taken to ensure that this will be a reality as soon as possible?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question and his interest in this. This Government are spending hundreds of millions of pounds on improving our network and continue to do so. Indeed, I met the chief executive of Network Rail yesterday to talk about how we can speed up the delivery of elements of our accessibility programme. I read the Leonard Cheshire report on this, and it was interesting, but I tend to think that it has underestimated the figures involved in improving our network to the level that it should be at by now.