Improvements at train station - but what about disabled access?
CONCERNS have been raised about the lack of disabled access at one of Bristol's railway stations where works are currently being carried out.
Lawrence Hill railway station, which provides trains to Temple Meads and northbound towards Clifton, Avonmouth and Severn Beach, is currently only accessible on one platform via a flight of steps.
Transport campaigner Dave Redgewell, 44, who uses a wheelchair, spotted building works at the station and has raised concerns about the lack of disabled access.
"I've seen lots of improvement works going on at Lawrence Hill including work on the steps and on the platform," he said.
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"There are lots of contractors there at the moment and I just think it is a missed opportunity to get a ramp built, which would make it easier for disabled and elderly residents, as well as parents with push-chairs."
The works are being carried out by First Great Western, but Mr Redgewell says the train company is not to blame for the lack of access.
"As the transport authority for Bristol the city council should have applied for a grant from the Department for Transport," he said.
"This has happened in Keynsham, where Bath and North East Somerset Council applied for a grant.
"It also happened at Nailsea and Backwell stations, where North Somerset Council applied for the grant in conjunction with Netwrok Rail through the Access for All programme."
The Access for All Programme was launched in 2006 to address issues faced by disabled passengers using railway stations in the UK.
It meant that £35 million of funding per year was ring-fenced until 2015, for provision of an obstacle free, accessible route to and between platforms at priority stations.
Work has recently started on a new access ramp on the Bristol-bound platform at Keynsham railway station, after several years of campaigning by local residents.
Funding was secured after Bath and North East Somerset Council applied for an Access for All grant.
Meanwhile at Nailsea and Backwell stations work on ramps is due to be completed by March 2014, also after funding was secured under the Access for All scheme.
A spokesman for First Great Western said the works being carried out at Lawrence Hill were not improvement works but "essential maintenance".
He said that improvement works, including disability access, were due to be carried out in four to five years when the Great Western mainline is electrified.
Mr Redgewell believes not applying for an Access for All grant now was a missed opportunity by Bristol City Council.
"The council is the transport authority for the city and it needs to take responsibility and be proactive," he said.
A council spokeswoman said: "The council agrees that disabled access at Lawrence Hill is an issue which needs to be resolved. It is exploring options for making improvements with the rail industry."