New ‘Access for All’ station funding announced but Greenfield misses out

GREENFIELD has been excluded again from a list of train stations receiving funding under the government’s Access for All scheme.

The decision has been called “disgusting” by one frustrated disabled passenger.

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams is also critical of the latest snub.

Barry Carr at Greenfield station

A total of 45 stations have been announced in the latest round of funding, taking the total number of stations to be upgraded to 73. Work is expected to be finished by 2024 at a cost of £300m.

While travellers can access the Manchester bound platform at Shaw Hall Bank Road with relatively few difficulties, the bridge to platform two, over the Trans Pennine track, is far more problematic.

A former underpass was closed due to flooding and the bridge built as a replacement.

Barry Carr, 70, of Greenfield has been using a wheelchair for 15 years.

He told the Independent: “I have spoken to a lot of people and they tell me they just don’t use the station any more because of the lack of access.

“But it’s not only disabled people who have trouble. It’s people of all ages.

“I saw an elderly couple with two suitcases and the man had to make four trips up and down the stairs. They were going on holiday but I thought he was going to have a heart attack.

“On another occasion, I watched a young mum struggle to take a baby in a pram over the bridge. She had already taken a three or four-year-old to the other side.

“Non-stopping trains go through the station at a terrific speed and I thought the youngster could have been blown off the platform by the wind  they create. 

“I have used trains in Ireland, Scotland and Wales and travelled from the smallest stations. They have been disabled friendly on both sides so why can’t Greenfield be?

“For those customers unable to negotiate the steep steps and who are eligible, they can alight at Stalybridge and order a taxi. The cost is met by the rail companies.

“But your ticket has to say Greenfield to Greenfield and the taxi booked in advance.

“Sometimes though you have to wait at least two hours for the taxi and that’s why I don’t use it now.”

Commenting on Greenfield’s latest exclusion, Mrs Abrahams said: “Theresa May recently promised, in the House of Commons, that all stations will be upgraded to help people with mobility issues but even Tory MPs are saying the role out of the Access for All scheme is too slow.

“The Access for All scheme is far too slow and stations like Greenfield are simply a barrier to anyone with mobility issues making it incredibly difficult for them to visit friends, get to the shops or to work.

“Nobody should have their ability to travel on public transport restricted in 2019; it’s just not good enough.”

A spokesperson for Greenfield Rail Action Group (GRAG) added: “We were not surprised Greenfield Station was not included in the latest round of Access for All funding as it has been promised as part of the Trans-Pennine Route Upgrade (TRU). 

“The TRU programme was expected to be published by the Department for Transport at the end of last year but Chris Grayling’s department has still not done so.

“GRAG’s campaign continues to be for full electrification of the line between Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds together will full disabled access at all the stations, especially Greenfield, as part of that TRU programme as soon as possible.

“GRAG has this year met with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM),  the deputy leader of Oldham Council Arooj Shah, and Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester to press home these points.”

• The next meeting of the Greenfield Rail Action Group will take place at Uppermill Civic Hall on Tuesday, May 21 starting at 7.30pm.

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