Father steps up campaign for better access at St Margarets

Improvement needed: The campaigners at St Margarets station

Improvement needed: The campaigners at St Margarets station

First published in News by , Reporter

A concerned father is leading the campaign for step-free access at St Margarets station.

The station is currently described on Network Rail’s website as “inaccessible”, with wheelchair users advised to use Richmond or Twickenham instead.

Paul Nicoll, of Hartington Road, started a petition for step-free access after his wife, Ruth, had a baby seven weeks ago and has since found it increasingly difficult travelling with a pram.

He said: “Whenever I am at the station, there are always four or five prams being carried up the stairs.

“I have started the petition and have spoken to my MP, Vince Cable, who is fully behind the campaign.

“For me, it seems like a massive issue.”

Mr Nicoll, 33, added he had received support from councillors Ben Khosa and Geoff Acton, who will be handing out flyers in support of the campaign at St Margarets on January 17.

Twickenham MP Vince Cable said he would continue to press South West Trains to improve access for disabled passengers at all railways stations.

He said: “It is now some years since we had regulation for disabled access.

“St Margarets is not the only local train station with problems.

“Twickenham for example has poor access but will see improvements with the new proposed station.”

As well as having no lifts at the station, there is also no staff help or ramp access for trains available for wheelchair users.

A spokesman for the South West Trains Network Rail Alliance said: “We are continuously looking at ways to improve facilities for all our passengers and regularly review accessibility at our 200 stations.

“We do not have any immediate plan for St Margarets station but will be installing lifts at Twickenham station, making the station fully accessible ahead of the Rugby World Cup.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We know that the quality and accessibility of stations is an important issue for passengers, this is why our £370m Access for All programme is delivering step free access at more than 150 stations and other access improvements at over 1,000 stations.

“While St Margarets was unsuccessful in the latest round of funding, the department will work with the industry and local partners to examine ways of improving access at the station.”

St Margarets councillor Chris Harrison, cabinet member for transport, said the issue would be raised at a public transport liaison meeting later this month.

He said: “The issue is on the agenda and of course we are in favour of it but it lies in the hands of Network Rail.”

The meeting will be held on January 28 at 7pm in the Terrace Room at York House, Twickenham.

Councillors will have the opportunity to interrogate public transport providers.

Members of the public are able to attend but not speak at the meeting.

To sign the petition, which had 18 signatures as of January 15, visit tinyurl.com/obwwssh.

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