OREANDA-NEWS  Network Rail engineers are about to submit planning applications for lifts and other accessibility improvements at Bexley, Plumstead and Shortlands, all managed by operator Southeastern.

The improvements are being delivered as part of the Access for All programme, which is funded by the Department for Transport and administered by Network Rail, improving step-free access across the railway network. Together they are worth more than ?13.5m.

Network Rail’s route managing director for the South East, John Halsall, said: “These improvements will make travelling by train much easier for people with reduced mobility, people with buggies, bags and bikes, and they will make a real difference to how people get around. Train travel should be for everyone, and while there are historic reasons as to why not all our stations are accessible, we remain focussed on making improvements to as many as we can.

“We’ll now be working closely with local authorities, passengers and neighbours to take these

David Wornham, Passenger Services Director Southeastern, said: “We work closely with Network Rail in ensuring that all passengers can use our station facilities and board our trains quickly and easily. Southeastern also offers various travel and priority seating services to those who are elderly, disabled, using wheelchairs or travelling with small children. We are committed to ensuring that anyone with special access needs can enjoy trouble free journeys with us”.

Bob Stewart, MP for Beckenham, said: “My local station is Shortlands and I am delighted that accessibility for parents with pushchairs and the elderly, who I know currently have big problems, will be much improved.”

Bob Neill, MP for Bromley and Chislehurst (Shortlands) said: “Installing step-free access wherever it is possible at stations should be a key aim across the rail network. People in our area rely heavily on train services to get from A to B, and those with mobility issues, buggies or other requirements shouldn’t be at a disadvantage. After successfully campaigning for the installation of the lift at Bromley South in 2012, I have continued to press for action at other stations in the area. I am delighted to see that plans are now underway to make this a not too distant reality for passengers travelling from Shortlands. It certainly has my full backing.”

Matthew Pennycook, MP for Greenwich and Woolwich (Plumstead) said: “I warmly welcome the accessibly improvements planned for Plumstead Station as part of Network Rail’s Access for All programme. The current layout of Plumstead Station makes access extremely difficult for those with disabilities, reduced mobility or with children. The planned improvements to the Station will make a real difference to the lives of thousands of local residents.”

James Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Bexley) said: “I welcome the provision of step free access to the platforms at Bexley Station and giving local passengers with much improved accessibility. I've been in contact with Network Rail over these plans for some time and am pleased that they are moving forward. I look forward to seeing the final details so that work can get started and these needed improvements are put in place as soon as practical."

Network Rail will be submitting designs in the autumn for planning determination by local authorities in 2018. Work will take place once permission has been received and designs are complete, with the schemes intended to be completed over the next two years.