Passengers in Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey are set to benefit from more accessible stations as a major new £20m station improvement scheme gets underway.
The South West Trains – Network Rail Alliance is improving disabled access at eight railway stations as part of its Access for All strategy. The scheme aims to develop stations which provide modern facilities to the benefit of all users.
Major improvements will take place at Aldershot, Alton, Brockenhurst, Fleet, Winchester, Wokingham and Worcester Park stations. The improvements will include new lifts and footbridges. In addition new lower counter ticket windows as well as new accessible toilets will be installed at Fleet and Wokingham stations. New Malden will also benefit from new lifts.
Step-free stations offer accessible routes from entrance to platform. Making stations more accessible not only benefits disabled people and those with reduced mobility, but also elderly passengers and those with children, heavy luggage or shopping.
Additionally, Fleet and Wokingham stations will undergo a complete rebuild, bringing major benefits for passengers, including an enlarged brighter booking hall, waiting room and new retail units.
Transport Minister Norman Baker MP, said: “The Access for All scheme is making a real difference to people using the railways. Opening up access at stations and providing step-free routes gives all passengers, including those with disabilities and parents with young children, greater access to employment and social opportunities.”
Tim Shoveller, Managing Director for the South West Trains – Network Rail Alliance, said: “We are committed to improving access to our stations as this can make a huge difference to people’s lives. Rail journeys don’t start and end at the carriage door. For many people - whether they are elderly, disabled or parents with prams - getting from the station entrance and on to the train can be the hardest part of their trip.
“This major improvement scheme will deliver some significant benefits to our passengers and we are looking forward to delivering it.”
The improvements are being funded as part of the Department for Transport’s Access for All scheme, which aims to improve access to railway stations. Extra funding is provided by the South West Trains – Network Rail Alliance, Hampshire County Council for Alton and Aldershot stations and Wokingham Borough Council for Wokingham station.