Station improvements to make travelling by rail easier on one of London’s main Olympic rail routes started this week.
Network Rail is to carry out work at Wembley Central, Camden Road, Hackney Central and Gospel Oak stations to make them more accessible, providing a step-free route between the station entrance and platforms for the first time.
The improvements will benefit London Overground passengers travelling to watch football at Wembley Stadium, badminton and gymnastics at Wembley Arena as well as passengers travelling to and from Stratford for the Olympic Park.
At Wembley Central, Network Rail will be carrying out platform extensions to provide the capacity for longer eight-car trains at two platforms.
This means the station will be able to better accommodate additional numbers of passengers during the Olympics and other future major events.
Major works on the £2.5m improvement scheme also include the installation of two new lifts, a stair lift, and the refurbishment of the toilets to make them fully accessible. For the first time, there will be step free access to all platforms.
At Camden Road, more than £2m is being invested in two new lifts, which will carry passengers between street level and the platforms. Works have also just started.
Improvements at Gospel Oak will start in November and £1.5m will be spent on two lifts and new raised walkways.
Subject to planning permission, £2.4m will be invested at Hackney Central with two new lifts being installed from the existing footbridge, allowing step free interchange between all platforms.
All four projects have been funded by the Department for Transport’s Access for All programme, which aims to make travelling by train easier for everyone, especially those with reduced mobility, parents with young children or people with heavy luggage.
Mike Goggin, Network Rail’s director of stations and customer service, said:
“London relies on rail like no other city. The improvements we’re making across the capital will make life easier for everyone to take the train and is part of a wider effort to build a bigger, better railway for London.
“With Olympic and Paralympic athletes and spectators travelling to, from and across London in huge numbers next summer, it’s right that passengers at these stations have the facilities they deserve.”
Rail minister Theresa Villiers said: “We are committed to improving access to stations across the country as this can make a huge difference to people’s lives, particularly those with reduced mobility.
“The Olympics will be the largest and most prestigious sporting event in Britain’s history. Millions of people – spectators, athletes, officials and the world’s media – will be travelling to and from the different Olympic venues.
“We are continuing our Access for All programme, despite the need to reduce the deficit, and I am very pleased that work has started on making these stations accessible in time for next year’s Games.”
Mike Brown, TfL’s managing director of London Underground and Rail, said:
“London Overground passengers, particularly those who find accessibility a problem, will now experience a much easier journey with the improvements at these four stations.
“The works are a result of TfL’s ongoing work with the rail industry to make all rail and tube stations fully accessible. TfL will continue to work with Network Rail and the Department for Transport’s accessibility programmes to find funding to make the improvements happen.”
There will be no disruption to passenger services at either Camden Road, Gospel Oak, Hackney Central or Wembley Central stations as a result of the construction work.
Work at Camden Road and Hackney Central is expected to be completed in spring 2012, Gospel Oak in late spring 2012 and Wembley Central in summer 2012 before the start of the Olympic Games.