A new lift contract has been introduced by the London Underground that can be replicated across many stations and is part of the London Mayor’s £200m tube access overhaul.
The new lifts deliver the same standards of reliability but “at a fraction of the cost and length of time” it previously took to design, manufacture and install.
Transport for London (TfL) anticipates that this initiative will cut the cost of installing each lift by 70%, making savings of £15m. It will also cut the delivery time by 40%, allowing TfL to introduce step-free access in the quickest time possible.
Caroline Sheridan, London Underground director of renewals and enhancements, said: “Not only are we investing more than ever before but we’re putting every aspect of the process under the microscope to see how work can be sped up and improvements made in the most efficient way.
“By devising a new, market-led lift contract, we can deliver the improvements sooner and take the unprecedented levels of investment further than ever before.”
The news comes as part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement of the next 13 tube stations that will be made step-free by spring 2022.
The next stations to benefit from step-free access will be Boston Manor, Burnt Oak, Debden, Hanger Lane, Ickenham, North Ealing, Northolt, Park Royal, Rickmansworth, Ruislip, Snaresbrook, Sudbury Hill and Wimbledon Park. Together they see more than 33 million passenger journeys each year.
The Mayor’s plan is part of the largest boost to step-free access in the tube’s 155-year history and will help bring the total number of Underground stations with step-free access to all platforms to more than 100. Investment across TfL will mean that by 2022, 40% of the network will be step-free, which is an increase on the current level of 27%.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said that it is “vital that we make our transport network accessible to all Londoners and visitors”.
“That’s why I vowed to significantly improve the services offered at our stations for those with disabilities, parents with pushchairs or anyone who struggles with their mobility. These improvements are going to make a big difference in helping Londoners move around our city and show the real progress we are making to improve accessibility right across the capital.”
Meanwhile, Paul Goulden, chief executive of Age UK London, said: “We’re very pleased to see the number of stations with step-free access will rise to more than 100 by 2022. We want London to be as accessible as possible and these changes mean that more older people will have improved access to central London and can enjoy all that the city has to offer. Today’s announcement is another key step towards achieving this and we look forward to welcoming further progress over the coming years.”
As well as improvements to accessibility on the tube, TfL has the most accessible bus fleet in the world, with all 9,000 buses low-floor wheelchair accessible and fitted with ramps.
Work has also been carried out with London’s boroughs to improve bus stop accessibility with almost all bus stops now wheelchair accessible.
All 22,000 of London’s taxis are fitted with wheelchair ramps and TfL has begun work to enhance access at taxi ranks.