The Crossrail delay in London has caused problems and annoyance for many, especially those looking forward to using it.
It has promised to alleviate some congestion on other rail lines but what has come to light recently is the wheelchair users eagerly waiting for it to open.
As a report from ITV highlights, Crossrail was billed as a project that would transform accessibility in London.
Its design puts step free access at all 41 stations on the line but now, three year delays to the project mean that wheelchair users in the City are still constantly coming across problems in a capital that doesn’t cater for mobility needs well enough.
The ITV report went on to find that in addition to the rail delay, the step free access upgrades at existing stations are also way behind schedule.
It explained how a total of 19 TfL stations were supposed to be getting new step-free access upgrades by the end of last year, only eight of these have been completed and only one was delivered on schedule.
ITV spoke to Andy Adamson, one of the people affected by the delays.
He detailed how he actually moved to Woolwich partly because of Crossrail and the promise of a new accessible station.
However, due to the opening delay, he told ITV London how his commute can be a nightmare, with trains being too busy to get on with a chair, meaning he needs to travel in the wrong direction to get a spot.
He explained how on bad days his commute can take nearly two hours.
In terms of the existing stations, campaigners like Transport for All said they don’t see any reason why step free access at stations like Ealing Broadway couldn’t just be delivered right now – before the rest of the network opens.
The ITV report explained how TfL Rail’s director of operations did apologise for the delays, but said the engineering challenges posed by stations that in some cases are 50 or 60 years old were proving harder than anticipated.
He added that step free access is on track to be delivered across most of the existing stations on the Crossrail route by the December 2020, with the new section opening in 2021.
Howard Smith, TfL Rail’s operations director, said: “We’re very sorry that there have been delays in delivering step-free access at certain stations on the TfL Rail network, which we fully recognise is frustrating for our customers. We can assure everyone that the work to install lifts at these stations is well advanced and we are working with Network Rail to get them open as soon as possible.
“New lifts will open at Hanwell, Iver and Langley stations in the coming weeks and the remaining eight TfL Rail stations will be step-free by December 2020.”
He added: “Making transport accessible for all is paramount in what we do. The Elizabeth line will completely transform the accessibility of the transport network for passengers across London and the south east. All 41 Elizabeth line stations will be step-free to platform level, staffed from first to last train, with a ‘turn up and go’ service offered to anyone needing assistance.”
Earlier this month though, the DfT said a share of a £9.4m fund could improve rail access across the UK.
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