Campaign launched in bid to help disabled train passengers ‘stranded’ in Cambridgeshire

Cllr Susan van de Ven and Steve Hawkins, chair of Meldreth Parish Council, with campaigners at Meldreth Railway Station Cllr Susan van de Ven and Steve Hawkins, chair of Meldreth Parish Council, with campaigners at Meldreth Railway Station

Thursday, January 9, 2014
8:30 AM

Residents have launched a campaign calling for improvements to one of the “least accessible” railway stations in Cambridgeshire.

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The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton rail user group is calling for disabled access at Meldreth station to be improved.

Yesterday (Wednesday), residents who use the station gathered there to launch the campaign and send a message to Network Rail, who fund major improvements to station infrastructure

Melbourn ward county councillor Susan van de Ven chairs the rail user group. She said: “While Meldreth is a healthy and important rural station, the rail user group believes that many people are missing out on access to rail services there.

“Steep flights of steps over the tracks, and another set of steps leading down to the Melbourn side of the station, mean that only those able to climb stairs can use the station. This includes not only people who are elderly or infirm, but those managing pushchairs with small children.”

Cllr van de Ven added that improvements at the station were particularly needed because of the presence of the Meldreth Manor school for disabled children.

“Meldreth Manor School is at the heart of Meldreth, as is the more recently founded Orchard Manor for 18-25-year-olds,” she said. “This should mean that we have a flagship station for disabled access, but in fact Meldreth is one of the least accessible stations in Cambridgeshire.

“Anyone arriving on the London-bound platform in a wheelchair will find themselves literally stranded, with no way of getting off the platform.”

The group plans to lobby Network Rail to make the case for upgrades to the station.

Meldreth Manor School headteacher Petrina Lodge said: “It impacts hugely on mobility, cost and effort and is very discriminatory to anyone who is not able bodied. It impacts on their quality of life and limits opportunity.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Network Rail works closely with the Department of Transport to manage and deliver station accessibility improvements as part of the Access for All Programme. Station selection is made by the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland.

“The majority of funding is targeted at the most heavily used stations, while a proportion has also been allocated to ensure a fair geographical spread of stations across England, Scotland and Wales.”

For more information about the campaign, log on to http://melbourn.org.uk/railusergroup/accessibility

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