Posted by: Belinda Hargreaves
Thu 11th January 2024
A railway organisation has stated that they are “still committed to the project” to install a step-free footbridge at Alfreton Train Station.
This statement from Network Rail comes after the Spirit of Alfreton has been quizzing a number of relevant organisations about the plans which were first announced in 2014 – ten years ago.
The station’s existing footbridge has steps which makes it unusable for many disabled people.
Once put in place, the step-free footbridge will give disabled access so that all passengers can get to Platform 2 to be able to board southbound trains out of the station.
At the moment disabled passengers are, reportedly, advised to stay on the train to another station and find alternative travel back to Alfreton.
The call has been ongoing to have a step-free footbridge at Alfreton Train Station for many years.
Plans to improve access to Alfreton train station were first announced by the Department for Transport in 2014. At the time, it was said that the work would be completed in 2019.
We reported in May 2022 that, even though Network Rail had developed plans for a new footbridge at Alfreton Train Station as part of Access for All, a government-funded scheme launched in 2006 to improve accessibility at stations, the plans had been delayed again.
Now in January 2024, work to install the step-free footbridge is still yet to get underway.
A number of Spirit of Alfreton readers raised the debate recently after we posted an article on our website about the station’s ticket officer being saved from closure.
Amongst those who commented under our facebook post about the ticket office were:
Matt Godfrey said: “How long is it now since the disability access to platform 2 was closed, 20 years.”
Colin Turner said: “All we need now is provision for disabled persons to be able to access both up and down lines.”
Peter Shaw said: “Delays, delays, delays, work should have started in the autumn but they only got as far as clearing the undergrowth away.”
Erica Thomas Batten said: “This is why I don’t use Alfreton if we catch trains, those steps are terrifying.”
Sue Braithwait said: “Very scary steps, no provision for disabled people.”
Andy Zane said: “What has happened to the disability rights law that came out a few years back, giving disabled people the same rights as the able bodied people?”
Eric Williams said: “I was travelling from Newcastle to visit friends in Alfreton. If it hadn’t been for two kind gents on the opposite side I’d not have been able to cross the bridge.
“The rail company’s answer was I should have stayed on the train to Nottingham then travelled back to Alfreton. Pure nonsense.”
Andy Zane said: “That has been the rail company’s attitude for years. It stinks. What is MP Nigel Mill’s doing about it?”
The Spirit of Alfreton has contacted Network Rail, East Midlands Railway, and also MP Nigel Mills about the ongoing lack of full disabled access at Alfreton Train Station.
A spokesman at Network Rail said this week: “We don’t have too much of an update at the moment but we are committed to this project. We are hoping to be able to share a little more later this month.”
Regarding how disabled passengers should use the train service currently, the Network Rail spokesman said: “The station itself is managed by East Midlands Railway. Having spoken to them, they say that if passengers with accessibility needs book in advance, they aim to contact them and encourage them to travel from nearby Langley Mill or Ilkeston instead.
“If a passenger arrives at Alfreton without a prior booking and they can’t use the station as required, EMR book a taxi to transport the passenger to Langley Mill or Ilkeston to connect to their onward journey there.”
After further pressing by the Spirit of Alfreton for information in regards to any timeline for the step-free footbridge project to actually be started, the spokesman added: “I’m not aware of one as things stand but we are still committed to the project. I was told by colleagues that there’ll be a larger update this month so I’ll send that to you when I have it.”
We reported in August 2023 that a spokesman for the office for MP Nigel Mills said: “Regarding Alfreton Train Station and the Access for All scheme to provide disabled access to the station, Nigel is continuing to lobby Network Rail to push for the works to start as soon as possible.
“Nigel has been campaigning hard on the issue and knows that the lack of disabled access affects many of his own constituents and other users of the railway.”
At the time of publishing this article, neither Mr Mills nor anyone from his office had yet responded to our latest request for a comment about the issue.
Neither has anyone from East Midlands Railway.
What do you think? Email our Editor Belinda at firstname.lastname@example.org
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