Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has called on Network Rail to improve accessibility at Stockton and Billingham stations and create a safer environment for visually impaired passengers.
Research by the charity Guide Dogs has identified both Billingham and Stockton stations as lacking any form of warning tactile on the platforms – including the platform edge. Warning tactile is a vital orientation and safety measure that helps blind and partially sighted people navigate safely. There are an estimated 6340 blind or partially sighted people living in the Stockton-on-Tees borough, many of whom will be rail users.
In 2019 Alex successfully campaigned to secure Access for All funding to bring step-free access to Billingham Station. He recently received confirmation from Network Rail that the work to deliver this would be completed by the end of 2022 at the latest.
“Everyone should be able to access their local train station safely and without obstacles, which is why I lobbied Network Rail to bring much needed step-free access to Billingham Station.
“At the moment blind and partially sighted people using Stockton or Billingham Stations are not supported with tactile warning to help them navigate the platform. I’m supporting the charity Guide Dogs and calling on Network Rail to bring forward a plan for installing tactile warning as soon as possible.”
Alex has asked Network Rail to consider building this into the Billingham improvement works – improving Stockton alongside this – and is awaiting a response.