by Dundonald Lib Dems on 9 September, 2017
Since 2014, we have campaigned with residents for step-free access at Raynes Park and Motspur Park stations.
Thousands of residents have signed our petitions on this, and we used these to get South West Trains (SWT), the Department for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail (NR) to take our concerns seriously.
Ultimately, after much correspondence we were able to uncover that unlike other stations it operates, SWT did not put forward either Raynes Park nor Motspur Park for funding from the programme for this kind of improvement: “Access for All”.
In response to press interest in our campaign, a SWT spokesman eventually told the Wimbledon Guardian in 2015 that: “The nearest stations to Motspur Park and Raynes Park are already fully accessible and therefore any funding bid would not have met the necessary criteria”.
However, this was not the reason they had given to us, which initially seemed to imply that applications had been made and rejected. This was eventually contradicted by the DfT, which said applications had not been made.
The stations – key facts
Raynes Park Station had nearly 4.5 million entries & exits in 2015/16 – and whilst it has a ramp to access platforms going towards central London, platforms in the other direction are only accessible via steps. This means wheelchair users, those with mobility problems and parents with prams and buggies can only use the station going one way.
Motspur Park Station had 1.2 million entries and exits in 2015/16, neither platform has step free accessibility. It is not easily served by bus routes.
Expecting passengers with heavy luggage or buggies, and those who cannot manage the stairs, to go to a station that is not their nearest one seems unreasonable – especially when SWT only chose to apply for funding to improve eg New Malden at the same time as it could have applied to improve Raynes Park and Motspur Park.
Similarly, it’s not enough to say that people can call the “Passenger Assist” service; life just doesn’t work like that. We believe that real equality means everyone should be able to access the trains without huge extra effort.
We are aware that both stations may be significantly developed if Crossrail 2 goes ahead. But it may not, and even if it does, it may take 10-15 years. The stations should not be allowed to fall into disrepair in this period.
New franchise holders – First MTR/South Western Railway
SWT stopped being responsible for the stations in August. Earlier this year we contacted the new station and route operators, First MTR, who run the stations as “South Western Railway”. They said:
“We have no specific plans for either Raynes Park or Motspur Park stations in our initial programme of works. We will, however, consider all future bids for Access for All funding for schemes.
“With regards to [the point] about station maintenance, I can assure you that the potential for Crossrail 2 will not impact on station maintenance at these stations. They will form part of our ongoing station maintenance programme and we will not see them fall into disrepair.
“I am sorry I cannot commit to funding these programmes today. We will maintain an open dialogue with stakeholders to ensure we know what local communities want and look to make plans and secure funding to achieve them.”
We’re pleased that First MTR have committed to maintaining the stations, and seem broadly open to talking to people about this issue. We will be pushing them as to what steps they will actively take to “make plans and secure funding” to get the job done.Leave a comment