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Rail Network: Accessibility

Volume 680: debated on Thursday 17 September 2020

The Government have recently made £350 million available to make accessibility improvements at a further 209 stations through the Access for All programme. We also require the industry to comply with current accessibility standards whenever it installs, replaces or renews station infrastructure.

Since July, the lifts at Luton Airport Parkway station have been in the process of being fixed, so people in my constituency who are disabled, have mobility issues or have a family with children and a buggies are not able to access the railway. I am pleased that Luton station has been granted Access for All funding. I spoke to the Minister six months ago about the decrepit state of Luton station and the need not just to add shiny lifts to something that is not fit for the 21st century. Will the Minister give me an update on the much-needed renovation of the station, the accessibility needs that have to be addressed and where we are now?

I know, from when I met the hon. Lady virtually during lockdown, how she aspires to a wider redevelopment of Luton station. At that meeting, I promised to get Network Rail to continue its work with Luton Borough Council to finalise a solution to deliver an accessible step-free route at the station by 2024. Since then, Network Rail has presented a number of options to the council which are currently being considered.

Will the Minister accept a wider definition of accessibility and comment on the plans to stop the free travel for under-18s, which gets students all around London? Is there a plan for the Government to assist Transport for London, given its financial situation, to bring back free travel from half-term for under-18s, so they can get to schools and to other pursuits?

That is slightly beyond my brief and slightly stretching the accessibility definition to which I operate, so if I may I would like to write to the hon. Lady.