‘Wales’ new £5bn rail franchise must set cash aside for accessibility upgrades’

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Charities want Wales’ new rail franchise to make accessibility upgrades across the network a “top priority” when it starts operating on Sunday.

They have called for urgent upgrades to be made and for Transport for Wales (TfW) to set money aside from the £5bn franchise because just a third of stations in the country have full step-free access.

According to a report by the BBC, almost 25% of Wales’ 247 train stations are not accessible to wheelchairs but TfW has insisted it is committed to creating a fully accessible network.

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Colin Lea, TfW’s customer director, told the BBC that £15m will be spent to improve at least 23 stations over 15 years.

“While a significant amount of work has been done in recent years to improve accessibility there is still a lot of work to be done to transform stations, some of which were built in the Victorian era and we will be working in very close partnership with Network Rail on this.”

James Taylor, head of policy and public affairs at Scope, told the BBC that disabled rail passengers feel like an “afterthought”.

He said: “Disabled people in Wales face unnecessary difficulties using the rail network every day. From lack of access to stations, to having to use massively outdated and inaccessible rolling stock.

“Time and again disabled passengers are left feeling like they are being treated as an afterthought. This urgently needs to change.”

Meanwhile, Rhian Davies, chief executive of Disability Wales, called for improvements to be made a “top priority”.

She said: “Disabled people aren’t second class citizens. We’re entitled to go anywhere we want, and to have the necessary support where that’s needed, to have accurate information.”

Tags : Accessnetwork railtfwtransport for wales
Joe Peskett

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