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Posted by: John Brace | 2nd July 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Merseytravel agree £3.38 million of investment in improving access for the disabled at Birkenhead North station

EXCLUSIVE: Merseytravel agree £3.38 million of investment in improving access for the disabled at Birkenhead North station                                              

Birkenhead North railway station steps (problems with disabled access)

Last Thursday at its Annual Meeting, Merseytravel agreed £3.38 million of investment in improved disabled access at Birkenhead North train station. Merseytravel received £1 million towards the project from Network Rail’s “Access for All” fund, £1.2 million from Network Rail’s Enhancement Fund and a further £300,000 from Network Rail. The work is planned to be completed by March 2014.

Wirral councillors welcomed the news. Cllr Steve Foulkes told those present at the meeting that it was his local station and that completing the link to the car park would have a beneficial effect on residential parking at Birkenhead Park. Cllr John Salter thanked officers for coming forward with the proposals and referred to the regeneration going on in the area, such as Peel’s plans for an International Trade Centre.

John Brace, pictured in the photo who started campaigning for improved disabled access at Birkenhead North railway station in 2008 said, “The news surrounding the planned work to improve disabled access at Birkenhead North railway station by next year is welcome. Neil Scales, the former Chief Executive of Merseytravel stated in a letter to myself in 2008 that “Merseytravel’s … aim is to provide step free access at all stations on Merseyside.”

“There is a footbridge at Bidston and stepped ramps at both Upton and Birkenhead Park railway station, so there is still a long way to go before stations in the local area are accessible. A legal case in the Court of Appeal in 2004, Roads v Central Trains Ltd [2004] EWCA Civ 1541, was brought by a wheelchair user against their local train company because of an inaccessible train station. Mr. Roads was paid £1,097 in compensation (and his legal costs) because of disability discrimination and Central Trains limited was forced (despite an estimated cost of £750,000) to improve disabled access at the train station.”

“People who certain disabilities are entitled to a free public transport pass, yet it is wrong that many disabled people have a pass that they can’t use at their local train station due to access problems. Improving disabled access also makes life easier for cyclists and people pushing pushchairs. I hope that Merseytravel and Merseyrail will take its legal responsibilities seriously not to discriminate against disabled people and improve the other inaccessible stations in the near future. Three Lord Justices agreed that the cost of adapting the train stations is not a reason to discriminate against disabled travellers.”

The report of Merseytravel’s Director of Integrated Transport Services about the Birkenhead North access improvements can be read here, as well as an enclosure showing the new design and a further enclosure detailing key risks of the project.


Responses

  1. Too long coming,where were the Wirral reps 5 years ago? There is also the issue of a ‘promised’ station for Woodchurch.

    • A new station for Woodchurch has been ruled out by the government before 2015 and is tied into the proposal to electrify the Bidston to Wrexham line.

      If I remember correctly one or more of the Wirral reps on Merseytravel five years ago basically said the stations were over a hundred years old and Merseytravel didn’t have the money to make the improvements to disabled access.

      • That as maybe but they are a transport body NOT a leisure provider,so why did they spend money on the beatles Story and,most insulting of all The U Boat. Located in the area where the Battle of the Atlantic was centred!

        • Yes you are right, they’re an integrated transport authority (previously called a passenger transport authority). Merseytravel also run Mersey Ferries (at a loss subsidised by the surplus from tunnel tolls).

          I suppose a long time ago they must’ve thought they needed some sort of tourist attractions in order to encourage people using the Mersey Ferry to get off rather than just stay on for a round trip.

          Similar puzzlement if I remember correctly was expressed by their auditor last year who reminded them they were a transport body and was frankly slightly mystified as to why they had so many tourist projects and limited companies.

          The question is perhaps best addressed to the councillors that agreed to the expenditure on the U Boat story and The Beatles Story, yet as this is in the dim and distant past, you may have to make an FOI request to Merseytravel to find out who it was originally!


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