Monday, 8 July 2013

Crossrail Should Be Accessible For All...

transport for all is a campaign group for accessible transport across greater london. its latest campaign is for crossrail to be accessible at all of its stations.

The £14.8bn scheme being built by Crossrail Ltd (CRL), which will join up east and west London via the City, is probably one of the largest civil engineering schemes in Western Europe. CRL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL), is building an awful lot of kit including 9 new stations, 26 miles of tunnels, new depots, plus several station, tunnel and line refurbishments.

Crossrail is heavy civil engineering at its best. Big holes, tunnels and
plenty of big boy's toys. So, why cannot the scheme manage to
make all stations step free? Image CRL.
The new stations will be step free from street to platform and platform to train, but out of a total of 37 stations served by Crossrail, 6 will have no alternative to stairs/ escalators and 2 will only be step-free in one direction only (download a map here).

CRL has to build the new stations step-free in order to meet equality legislation and many existing stations will be getting lifts where there are currently none. But, in the second decade of the 21st Century, how can it be right that a major piece of public transport infrastructure is not fully accessible to all?

The scheme will add modern trains to the fleet, it is just
that some people won't be able to get on them at their
local station. Image CRL.
It is not as if the budget is all committed. The scheme has a funding for "complementary measures" around some of the stations along the route. It is pretty vague what these will be, but I have seen ideas at various meetings and seminars and they tend to be measures to make the areas around the station pretty. Money has been spent on consultants undertaking studies and coming up with concepts. 

New paving and perhaps the odd new pedestrian crossing might be welcome, but given that there are stations without the basic infrastructure to get people to the platforms (i.e. lifts) this seems perverse.

So, I hope that Transport for All is successful in its bid to push the politicians and TfL in making those last stations accessible to all and delivering a fantastic piece of public transport infrastructure.

Update 10/7/13
I just wanted to add a personal comment to this post. The reason that public transport schemes lacking accessibility to all winds me up is not really to do with lugging pushchairs up stairs on the Underground (which I hated!), it is more to do with the elderly man I dealt with a few years' ago who was campaigning for his local bus stops to be made accessible. 

His wife used a wheelchair and he was rather frail himself, but they got on with life and were independent. In chatting to him about the bus stop scheme (which I got built!) he told me that in order to take his wife to a specialist hospital in London, he had to catch the mainline train going the wrong way so he could use a station with lifts to change platforms to get the train back into London. His travel in the wrong way was free as this was the only way the train operator could assist.

Accessible transport is not simply about disability, it is about inclusivity and it cannot be right (legally or morally) that Crossrail is not fully accessible. Civil Engineering is about people more than anything.

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