Works to improve accessibility at Warwick Station to start after 18 years of campaigning
Works to improve the accessibility of Warwick railway station are due to start next year after 18 years of campaigning.
For nearly two decades residents and councillors have been urging and campaigning for a lift at the station to the southbound platform to help make it more accessible.
John Holland, who is a Warwickshire County Councillor for Warwick, has been leading the campaign since 2001 to improve the station for those with prams, pushchairs, bikes and wheelchairs.
Last week workers were spotted on site doing enabling works ahead of the start of the project.
John said: “Workers arrived last Tuesday (October 22) and they have started doing enabling work to locate pipes and so on.
"We had an agreed scheme in 2016 which everybody had signed up to and it was a good scheme. Unfortunately George Osbourne, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, halted the project.
"At the moment lots of people can't manage the steps; people with pushchairs, prams, biked and wheelchairs. A lift has to be provided.
"It is a shame we didn't get the original scheme as the location of the lift has had to be moved slightly but at last some work has started.
"It is great news and this time next year we hope to have an open lift and a fully accessible station.
"Full credit also goes to The Courier for their full reports.”
Although there are hopes the lift will be open this time next year Network Rail have said that they estimate that work will be completed in autumn 2021.
A spokesperson from Network Rail said: “The Access for All improvements planned for Warwick station will make it much easier for all passengers to access train services.
"The designs are currently being finalised and we aim to start work on site in spring next year, to be completed in autumn 2021.
"Train services will continue to run throughout the upgrade work.”
Despite a rough timetable being given for the works some people are still sceptical about the scheme.
Caroline Dutton, who lives in Warwick, said: "I am sceptical. They have been saying this work will go ahead for years and years. 2021 is a long timetable to give.
"I will believe it if and when we see it.
"At the moment Warwick Hospital is not accessible for people coming to Warwick via the train on that side because they have to go down the steps. I have seen people in wheelchairs stranded on the platform and elderly travellers from all across the world struggling with suitcases down the stairs. It is also inaccessible to travellers who have small children, buggies or luggage.
"This work should have been done 10 to 20 years ago. There used to be a ramp in the 1960s to the platform.
"I have always supported any move to get access to that platform. They have completely overlooked a section of the population and they are being excluded from using that platform."
In June 2018 The Courier shared a story about residents pleading for a lift to be installed after a mum from Leamington struggled up and down the stairs with a pushchair.
Then in April 2019, another story was shared about Warwick Station getting a funding boost from the Government's 'Access for All' scheme for the improvements to be made to provide step-free access.