Rail Station Out Of Reach, Man Tells MP
April 21, 2004
KENT, ENGLAND--Len Staples says he would use his local railway station more often to travel to and from London -- if he did not have to take friends to lift him and his wheelchair on and off the train.
Staples told BBC News that there is no way for him to get from the Tunbridge Wells station to the public highway on his own.
"In order to do so I have to mount two sets of stairs, go under the railway track and come up the other two sets of stairs on the opposite side," he said. "You can't do it unless you've got physically, able-bodied people to lift you."
Staples also told Archie Norman, the Member of Parliament who represents Tunbridge Wells.
Mr. Norman brought up the issue to the House of Commons Wednesday.
"All across the country many stations, including my own in Tunbridge Wells, remain completely non-compliant. No resources have been forthcoming and neither Network Rail nor the train operating companies will take responsibility," Norman explained.
Mr. Norman asked if Transport Minister Kim Howells thought it acceptable that people with disabilities "have to make an appointment to be carried up stairs or through tunnels just to catch a train?"
South Eastern Trains, which manages the station, said in a statement: "The majority of our stations were built decades ago at times when access may not have been a consideration. So many of our stations and platforms are not wholly accessible for people with disabilities."