£1.7m to improve access at Aldershot stationBy Amy Taylor
February 18, 2013
DISABLED access at Aldershot railway station is finally set to improve, after work began on a £1.7million project to build a bridge between platforms.
The start of the long-anticipated scheme, which will also include two lifts at either end of the bridge, marks a milestone for train users with disabilities, who have struggled to use the station for decades.
Owen Durrett, of the Rushmoor Access Group, said he was pleased to see ‘positive changes’ to the station after years of nearly no disabled access there.
“It’s long overdue and we are pleased to see it,” he said. “It will now have the same facilities as at Farnborough, which was finished last year, and there is an overall programme of improvement on the way.
Access for wheelchair users had been ‘almost impossible’, he added, with many people having to make alternative arrangements to travelling by train.
“With prior notice they could taxi people to Fleet to get a connection there, so they were not uncaring,” he said. “They have tried their best, but we are delighted that it’s changed.
“It will encourage all sorts of people to use the station, not just disabled people but anyone with mobility issues, elderly people, or mums with pushchairs.”
He said he knew it was a subject close to many people’s hearts, with campaigns having been run long before he joined the access group.
Before the funding was approved, an underpass was the only means of getting between Aldershot’s three platforms.
The money for the project has come from a share of a £37.5million Department for Transport grant, shared among nearly 40 stations.
Work will also be carried out at Fleet and Farnborough and there will also be contributions from Hampshire County Council and South West Trains. The bridge and lifts will complement the previously-installed new lower ticket window for wheelchair users, a spokesman for the train company said.
Malcolm Page, estates manager for the South West Train-Network Rail Alliance, said: “We are delighted to start the work. The need to improve accessibility has been a priority for us for a long time and we have worked hard to deliver improvements for passengers.”
For many passengers the money cannot come soon enough.
Borough councillor Mike Roberts, a member of the Alton Line Users Association, has been calling for improvements for years. He said the group was supportive of the work, which will be completed by the summer.
“It has taken a long time but the need is important,” he said, adding that he hoped it signalled the start of wider improvements to the station.
“The emerging transport strategy and its focus on new initiatives, when agreed, will also benefit the future travelling arrangements.”