Handforth station has secured Government funding to make it step free, it was announced today(Thurs).
The Department for Transport named Handforth as one of 73 stations to benefit from the latest £300 million being ploughed into the network as part of the Government’s Access for All scheme.
Ensuring step free access at the station was the first thing Tatton MP Esther McVey said she would try and secure after her election in June 2017.
Ms McVey said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have been successful in this bid. In the election campaign in 2017 I met and worked with local residents and campaigned for these improvements. They are desperately needed and are vital to ensure everyone who wants to use the station can access it, whether that be disabled or elderly people, families with pushchairs or people carrying heavy bags.
“We have a growing population and access to the station allows residents to get to work and to surrounding cities and towns. At the moment we have the problem that disabled people or those with pushchairs have to drive to Wilmslow to get on a train which is ridiculous.”
Friends of Handforth Station have campaigned for 22 years to secure funding to improve access and with the support Handforth Parish Council, Cheshire East Council and Northern Rail a bid was submitted to Government last year. Ms McVey met with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling setting out why Handforth needed improving.
Ms McVey added: “The 35 steps to each platform are hard to navigate for many people and it is the difference between someone being able to travel independently or relying on others, or having to use a different station. When I met Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to discuss the bid I was very clear how difficult it was for many constituents and what a difference the improvements would make. I stressed we desperately needed these improvements and I am glad he saw how important it was. The Friends of Handforth have worked tirelessly on this issue and together with support from other agencies the hard work has paid off. I look forward to hearing more from the DfT as to when the funding will be available and we can get this moving.”
Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Everyone should be able to access our rail network and I am pleased to announce that Handforth station will now become a fully accessible station in the next stage of the programme. Esther McVey has been campaigning to make Handforth step free so it is safer for all passengers, especially those with restricted mobility or parents with pushchairs and I am delighted to be able to announce that the hard work has paid off.”
Government wants the 13.9 million disabled people in Britain to be able to travel independently and over the next five years these newly accessible stations will open up routes across the country.
Ms McVey added: “This upgrade to our station will ensure disabled people have the same access to travel as everyone else and will help people travel easily and without additional cost, time or stress.”