Wimbledon Park station lift

20 Apr 2024
Wimbledon Park station lift

Failures leave disabled people 'trapped underground'. 

London's Mayor is under fire as new figures show a staggering rise in the number of lift closures on the Underground network due to a lack of trained staff - with Wimbledon Park being the second worst performing station on the network.

Wimbledon Park Station was out of action for a staggering 465 hours due to staff shortages in 2023, making it the second worst performing station on the London Underground.

In 2016, Sadiq Khan said the goal was for Transport for London ("TfL") "to have no lifts taken out of service due to an absence of trained staff". He later admitted to the London Assembly that it was "unacceptable for lifts to be out of service for this reason" and promised "immediate action" to resolve it. Despite these assurances, the problem has got worse. 
Between 2021 and 2022 there was a fivefold increase in the amount of time that lifts were out of action solely due to a lack of trained staff at London Underground stations. This figure increased by another 34% in 2023 to a total of 3,301 hours without lifts due to a lack of trained staff. These figures do not include lift closures due to engineering failures.

When staff are not available, lifts must be taken out of service for safety reasons. Lifts are also taken out of service when staff are unavailable to support wheelchair users to board and alight trains using a manual boarding ramp.

Locally, Merton Liberal Democrats have being working to ensure local train stations are accessible. Lib Dem councillors in Wimbledon Park have been lobbying to get TfL to change the staff rota at Wimbledon Park Station to reduce closures. And after a decade-long campaign by local Liberal Democrats, the Government and rail companies began work on turning Motspur Park station step-free last year. There are also ongoing campaigns to make Raynes Park, Wimbledon Chase and Haydons Road stations more accessible.

Cllr Tony Reiss, Liberal Democrat councillor for Wimbledon Park, said:

"Local residents thought the lifts at Wimbledon Park were breaking down each day. I discovered they were being shut for safety reasons when the single staff member was taking a break. I manged to get TfL to change the roster at Southfields and Wimbledon Park so lifts there can stay open in future but it only works for the morning shift! The afternoon will still have only one staff member, so when they have a break, the lifts will still be closed. And there's only one staff member for weekends and no replacements. We would urge TfL to resolve these staffing issues to avoid inconvenience and distress to passengers."

Paul Kohler, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Wimbledon, said:

"An accessible and reliable public transport system is essential for a thriving and inclusive city. It is also crucial that steps are taken to ensure every commuter can travel safely and conveniently.

"These closures are not publicised and create huge problems for disabled people and others who need to use a lift. 

"Not knowing a lift has suddenly been closed risks leaving vulnerable people trapped underground."


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