Passengers using one of the region’s busiest suburban rail stations will find it far easier to use the facility after transport authority Centro secured £1 million to help install lifts.
Those with mobility problems have struggled to use Acocks Green station in Birmingham for decades because of the large number of steps that need to be negotiated to reach its platforms.
As a result Centro applied for cash under the Government’s Access for All scheme which is designed to modernise the country’s stations many of which, like Acocks Green, date back to Edwardian times.
Money from the fund has initially gone to the country’s busiest stations, the majority of which are in the South East of England but the Department for Transport has now given the green light for Acocks Green.
The Centro scheme involves installing lift access from the station booking office to the car park and platforms as well as improvements to the stair access to ensure the facility meets the latest guidance and regulations.
Cllr Tom Ansell, Centro’s Lead Member for Rail and Metro, said:
“Acocks Green is the busiest rail station without step free access in the West Midlands so this funding is fantastic news for passengers at a time when demand for rail travel is at its highest level since the 1920s.
“This work means it will be much easier for people to go by train from Acocks Green.”
The station, which boasts a free 132 space park and ride facility, is a key stop on the Birmingham Snow Hill to Leamington Spa line, an important commuter route that also serves Solihull.
However, the station’s main entrance and booking office is on Yardley Road, more than 30 feet above the platforms and car park.
Centro is now in the process of putting together detailed costings for the work which is expected to see the lift access installed by 2014.
Nicola Moss, Head of Franchise Management at train operator London Midland said:
“We are very pleased at the announcement of funding for step free access at Acocks Green.
“The improvements to accessibility at stations across the region is part of on-going collaborative work with our partners at DfT, Network Rail and Centro.”
Network Rail has completed work at Sutton Coldfield and is carrying out access improvements at Northfield, Selly Oak and Shirley.