July 24 2014 Latest news:
Laura Burnip, Senior reporter
Monday, July 7, 2014
Plans to make Ilford train station step-free in 2018 are “not soon enough”, a disability campaigner has said.
Three new lifts are due to be installed at the station as part of the Crossrail scheme, estimated to be completed four years from now.
But Abida Iqbal MBE, chairman of Redbridge Disabled Women’s Welfare Association, said making the station accessible for all should be a priority.
Mrs Iqbal said: “People really do need step-free access.
“They need it beforehand – it can’t wait until 2018.
“Four years is too far away.”
Ilford South MP Mike Gapes agreed Ilford needed step-free access “as soon as we can”, but said it would not happen before Crossrail.
“I’m very pleased that it’s coming with Crossrail,” he told the Recorder.
“We do need step-free access and we need it as soon as we can.
“They are not going to do any engineering [before 2018] because it’s scheduled as part of Crossrail.”
He said improvements had been planned but were delayed in 2010 due to funding cuts announced in the comprehensive spending review.
“It’s coming in 2018, it should have come earlier,” he added.
Mr Gapes said he was also “hopeful” that a campaign to make Seven Kings station accessible would be successful.
Currently it is one of seven Crossrail sites not due to be made step-free.
Lianna Etkind, campaigns coordinator at the charity Transport for All, said it was “imperative” that Seven Kings be included in the improvements.
She said: “When Ilford station finally becomes step-free, disabled and older residents will at last be able to use their local station with the same freedom and independence as everyone else.
“However, the real scandal is that under current plans, we will remain locked out from Seven Kings station and six other Crossrail stations will remain out of bounds to disabled people.”
Last month, joint sponsors of Crossrail, the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL), reaffirmed their aim to make the entire route accessible.
A spokeswoman for Transport for London said today the organisation was currently undertaking feasibility studies on making Seven Kings step-free.
She said: “We understand it’s a very sensitive issue for people.
“That’s why we are so committed.
“We are undertaking the work now. Sometimes it does just take a bit of time.”