Passengers using Carlisle station are benefitting from a £1.8 million investment to provide step-free access to platforms for the first time.
Network Rail has refurbished a disused subway which is linked to the platforms by two new lifts as part of the national Access for All programme.
The scheme will provide better access for passengers with reduced mobility, luggage and children and was funded by the Department for Transport.
Councillor Ray Bloxham, Mayor of Carlisle, will officially open the new facilities at Carlisle station at 11am on Tuesday 15 April.
Rail minister Baroness Kramer said: “We are committed to improving access to our rail system and offering disabled people the same opportunities as the rest of the travelling public.
“Improving access and providing step-free routes will really make a difference to passengers’ journeys, opening up access to work and leisure and helping to secure the UK’s long-term economic growth.”
Ian Joslin, Network Rail acting area director, said: “These vital improvements to Carlisle station will make life easier for everyone to use the train, especially those with luggage, reduced mobility or children. The new facilities will improve Carlisle station and allow it to better handle the demands of an increasing number of passengers who use it every day.”
The lifts have been clad to match the station environment and complement the station’s listed-building status. As well as access improvements, work has also taken place to restore existing sandstone and brickwork, create a new fire escape, install new lighting, improve CCTV coverage and provide a passenger help point.
Mark Green, Virgin Trains’ station manager at Carlisle, said: “We’re really pleased to see these lifts open and look forward to the benefits they will bring to passengers. It’s an important victory for disabled people who will be granted a degree of independence that other passengers take for granted. Rather than having to rely on passenger assistance to help them gain access to platforms one to three via the footbridge, the lifts will enable them just to turn up at the station and make their own way there.”
The plans were developed in consultation with Carlisle City Council with input from the Carlisle Disability Action Group and the Friends of Settle and Carlisle Line.
Councillor Ray Bloxham, Mayor of Carlisle said: “I am delighted that Carlisle City Council has been able to support this project, in assisting with the development of the scheme. It now means that Carlisle station enjoys full step-free access to all platforms – a benefit to everyone.”
John Stevenson MP for Carlisle added: “I am delighted that the improvements to Carlisle station have been completed. It is very important that everyone is able to access public transport in our city and these improvements make that possible. I hope that more people are encouraged to take the train from Carlisle station as a transport option now it has become more accessible.”