RORY STEWART CELEBRATES VICTORY IN LIFT FOR PENRITH STATION
Rory Stewart’s four-year campaign to obtain funding for a lift and improved disabled access at Penrith station has won through, with today’s confirmation that the Depatment for Transport is to include the vital upgrades in the current tranche of Access for All funding, from 2014 to 2019. The victory is the result of intense lobbying efforts by the local MP, including numerous meetings with rail companies, Ministers and West Coast franchise bidders, a site visit to the station with Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin, and the initiation one year ago of a well-attended Parliamentary debate on disabled access.
Currently, the station remains without northbound access for wheelchairs and other users, even though the station receives fourteen booked requests for disabled assistance per day and many more unbooked. Passengers are forced to be guided across the extremely dangerous and outdated barrow crossing. The station upgrades will be included in the current spend, however it is not yet known when the work will begin.
Rory Stewart MP said: “I am thrilled with the news that we have, at last, been recognised by the Department for Transport to receive Access for All funding to make these hugely overdue improvements to our local station. This is a win for Penrith, and I would like to sincerely thank all of the constituents who have sent in stories to help bolster our case, and the local councillors and residents who have supported me, and of course Virgin Trains for being strongly supportive of our campaign and for the exellent service their staff continue to provide at Penrith.”
Penrith Councillor John Thompson, who has assisted on the campaign, said: “This is absolutely marvellous. Greater disabilityaccess for the northbound platform is something Penrith station has needed for many years. This long-awaited decision will ensure the station can now cater for everyone, and local people really will be delighted.”
Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Rory has campaigned tirelessly for this important project and deserves great credit for ensuring it was properly considered for funding. I visited the station with Rory last year and saw for myself the access issues; I am glad that significant improvements will now be made.”