Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham welcomed support for disabled access at Billingham station after meeting with them earlier today in Parliament to hear about their ‘Let’s Get On Board’ campaign.
Alex along with local Councillors has been vocal in his support for step free access at Billingham station, which is one of the 40% of stations in England that does not have full-step free access available for disabled people. This leaves many physically disabled people unable to travel by
Speaking after the meeting, Alex said:
“Everyone has the right to get to work and visit their friends and family as they choose, but the lack of step-free access at train stations is barring disabled people from travelling independently, including here at Billingham, which is used almost 100,000 times a year.
“I was pleased to give my support to the nomination for Billingham to be made step-free as part of the latest Access for All funding round and will be making representations to Northern to see if Billingham has been shortlisted for this funding.”
Many disabled people also face difficulties planning travel, due to the unclear information on step-free access from National Rail.
Even at stations with step-free access, often a ramp is still needed to get from the platform to the train. This needs extra assistance, which is not always available, making it impossible for disabled people to travel spontaneously.
The latest findings follow research by Leonard Cheshire earlier this year that more than a third (35%) of working age disabled people have experienced problems using trains in the last year as a result of their disability.
Neil Heslop, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, said:
“Poor public transport is forcing disabled people to miss out on every day events which others take for granted – from employment opportunities to social events.
“Disabled people cannot continue to put their lives on hold. Rail operators must make it their absolute priority to ensure that their train stations have step-free access, so that all their customers can travel as they choose.”