VIDEO: Fighting for better access at Chinley Station
Campaigners turned out in force to present an 800-strong petition to MP Ruth George for better access to Chinley Station.
After two years of surveys and petitions the feeling among residents was made clear as they asked the MP to help make the station suitable for the disabled, those with prams, luggage and bicycles.
Chinley is a busy station linking Manchester Piccadilly and Stockport with Sheffield, but both platforms are only accessible by steps and people have had enough.
Chairman of the Chinley and Buxworth Transport Group, Carol Evans, said: “The access needs addressing as it is stopping people from using the trains which isn’t right.
“It needs to be made practical for all rail users by any means possible.”
Peter Redmond from Chinley walks with the aid of sticks and finds it very difficult to get to the station.
He said: “I rely on the station to get to and from my hospital appointments as there no bus routes which go that way.
“I have to set off an hour before the train leaves just so I know I have enough time to walk here and negotiate the steps.”
Paul Tattam from the transport group has been working on the campaign and says its clear to see why people have supported the call for better access.
He said: “More people are choosing to live in Chinley as it has great commuter links. Our village only has a population of 2,700 people so to get 800 people signing a petition is great.”
Paul Abell is the vice president of Railfuture, the UK’s leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for passengers and freight made the journey to Chinely to support the group’s cause.
He said: “When you look at the access now its crazy but up until the 1980s there was level access. So the access has got worse which is just ridiculous.”
High Peak MP Ruth George received the petition which she will pass on to the Department of Transport and is trying to find out more about the disability access funds which can be used to fix the station.
She said: “We will see what we can do as this will require major restructuring to sort this station out but it is important as this is a major route used by a wide radius of people.
“It’s dangerous it’s unsafe and its not right to have a station like this.”
It is almost ten years since the Government’s Access for All funding programme was launched to start a process of providing step-free access to stations.
Initially, the fund was used to provide an accessible route to around 150 of the busiest stations on Network Rail; by the end of 2019, the Department for Transport estimates that more than £520 million will have been invested in, providing level access to some 215 stations across the country.
In the last round of Access for All funding, 278 stations were put forward but only 68 of these could be added to the programme. New applications will be taken after 2019.
Sue Hallam, whose house backs onto the train station said: “It’s just dreadful.
“It’s discriminating against those who have disabilities.
“We can get over here because we are able-bodied but for it isn’t fair for those who can’t - prams, wheelchairs, or those with disabilities.”