Greater Manchester transport leaders call for more accessible rail station funding
8 September 2014 • Author: Transport for Greater Manchester
Transport leaders today called on government for increased funding to improve access to the 54 local rail stations in Greater Manchester that still do not have step-free access.
At a meeting of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee’s Capital Projects and Policy sub-committee, members unanimously backed a motion calling for funding to allow step-free access to all Greater Manchester stations within the next 10 years.
There are currently 96 stations in Greater Manchester, and 42 (44%) are defined as accessible, improving on the national average of around 80% stations across the country without step-free access to every platform.
Last year Greater Manchester submitted a bid to the Department for Transport’s national Access for All fund – which offers £100 million for accessibility improvements between 2014-19.
However, no Greater Manchester stations were among the 42 across the country approved for accessibility funding improvements.
If a station is inaccessible, train operating companies have to provide alternative transport, at no extra cost above the ticket price, to the nearest or most convenient station.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “It’s unacceptable in this day and age that over half of Greater Manchester’s train stations are not accessible to all.
“Poor access to the rail network is a nationwide issue – and the duty to address it lies with the rail industry as a whole, but principally the Department for Transport through its Access for All fund.
“Over the past five years we have worked with the DfT to deliver Access for All-funded step-free improvements at several stations, including Hazel Grove, Cheadle Hulme, Marple, Littleborough, Manchester Oxford Road, Stalybridge, together with Blackrod.
“We have driven investment into accessible facilities elsewhere too: the Victoria transformation will bring step-free improvements and the investment in trebling the size of the Metrolink network is also hugely beneficial, as all of its stops are fully accessible.
“We’ve also seen huge improvements in the number of low-floor vehicles operated by Greater Manchester’s bus operators – in the region of 98% of all their buses are accessible now.
“So it very disappointing that our rail stations are falling ever further behind – which makes the DfT’s decision to deny Greater Manchester any Access for All funding at all over the next five years even more perplexing.
“Today’s resolution gives added impetus to the need for an increased and accelerated level of investment to address accessibility issues at train stations.”
Transport for Greater Manchester’s Rail Station Accessibility programme prioritised the top-ten stations most in need of step-free access based on a number of criteria.
Work was completed at Blackrod station in 2012, and the remaining nine are: Mills Hill, Appley Bridge, Walkden, Irlam, Hindley, Newton for Hyde, Daisy Hill, Broadbottom and Swinton.
Discussions are currently ongoing with the Department for Transport in connection with including Greater Manchester’s remaining nine priority stations within the new North of England franchise.