Residents and local campaigners have been shocked to discover that South West Trains is not pushing to make local train stations more accessible.
The local Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for step-free access at local train stations. To use Motspur Park station, people must use stairs to get the central platform. Whereas at Raynes Park station, whilst there is a ramp to get to the London-bound platform, the other platforms can only be accessed by stairs. Yet there is a commitment from the rail industry to improve access to its stations and the Department for Transport has an “Access for All” fund to pay for changes.
In Summer 2014, 1,200 residents signed a Lib Dem petition demanding improvements. The response from South West Trains in July 2014, expressed disappointment that not all their submissions to the Department’s fund had been successful. However, the Department’s response was “neither Motspurk Park nor Raynes Park were put forward by South West Trains or Network Rail”. Basically the train companies didn’t even ask for the money.
Seeking to get to the truth, campaigners pushed further. Eventually confirmation was received from South West Trains almost a year later, after the intervention of London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, that these stations had not been put forward for consideration.
Campaign goes on
West Barnes Lib Dem councillor Mary-Jane Jeanes said:
“Our local stations could be improved with a ramps or liftst. Expecting passengers with heavy luggage or buggies, and those who cannot manage the stairs, to go to Worcester Park or New Malden stations is unreasonable. It’s not enough to say that people can call the ‘Passenger Assist’ service, life just doesn’t work like that. Real equality means everyone should be able to access the trains without huge extra effort”.
Apostles resident and transport campaigner Giles Bailey said:
“Our campaign is not over. With public support we want to ensure that these stations are given the priority we believe they deserve. The rail industry and DfT now realise the strength of local feeling to improve accessibility at Raynes Park and Motspur Park stations and the local Lib Dem Focus Team will continue to do what we can to see these changes made as soon as possible.”