5th July 2022
North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan has formally supported a bid to bring step-free access to Whitchurch Railway Station.
The MP and fellow Liberal Democrats in the area have long campaigned for the layout of the station to be changed to ensure that people with disabilities and mobility issues can reach both platforms.
Currently passengers have to navigate 44 steps on two flights of stairs to get on or off Platform 1. Those unable to are forced to get off at Wrenbury or Prees and get a taxi to Whitchurch.
The station has been put forward for the Access for All scheme, which funds projects to create step-free access, and Helen has provided a written submission to Network Rail in support of the application.
In the submission, Helen wrote: “The train service from Cardiff to Manchester via Whitchurch provides an essential connection to the wider world not only for Whitchurch residents, but also for those living in surrounding villages in our rural constituency, which is poorly served by other forms of public transport.
“It provides essential access to a greater range of job opportunities (notably in Shrewsbury, Crewe and Manchester) for local residents, and brings shoppers and tourists into our beautiful town.
“But currently those unable to manage 44 steps either because they struggle with mobility, have young children in a pushchair, or can’t carry heavy luggage are unable to access the southbound platform. The closest stations with step-free access have no parking.
“I have been contacted by many of my constituents who would benefit from step-free access, and a recent petition received over 300 signatures from local residents either keen to be able to use the rail service step-free, or convinced of its importance to the town.
“There would be considerable benefit both to the individuals currently unable to move out of the area without relying on a private car, and the wider economy as access to the town is opened up.
“Furthermore it would reduce private car dependence in the immediate area. The spiralling cost of fuel is contributing to the cost of living emergency in rural areas, and access to public transport would help greatly in controlling this element of the household budget. Reducing private car dependence also brings environmental benefits in our journey towards net-zero.”
The proposal will now be sent to the Department of Transport which will select which bids are granted approval and funding to move ahead with changes.
Helen has previously urged the DfT and Network Rail to expedite the process to ensure step-free access is installed as soon as possible in Whitchurch. As it stands, if the bid is successful any work is unlikely to be completed for around three years.