Three new lifts linked by a new footbridge are now making life a lot easier for passengers using Hooton railway station. All four platforms at the station can now be used by anyone, whether they are disabled, parents with children in buggies, are loaded down with luggage or simply do not want to walk up and down the stairs.
Paid for by the Department for Transport through its Access for All programme, the improvements have cost about £4m. Work started in May last year and the project was expected to take 12 months to complete but has been finished well ahead of schedule.
The new facilities were ready for passengers to use at the end of January, which allowed the old footbridge to be demolished last month and the platforms resurfaced where necessary.
Speaking at the official opening, Wayne Menzies, Network Rail’s area manager Merseyside said: “I have a long association with Hooton. As well as living about 10 minutes away, my first job was in the works of the engineering company (now the Cane factory) just opposite the Hooton Hotel and my father worked at F E Robinsons across the road for many years, so I know the station well.
“I also knew the old footbridge well and while some may think it was a feature of the station, it was built around 100 years ago when the needs of the less able bodied were not taken into consideration. The modern view is completely the opposite of this and the new facilities mean that everyone can now use the station whenever they wish.”
Peter Morton, Merseyrail’s Finance & Commercial Director, said: “It’s great news that Hooton station is now fully accessible for all passengers. Hooton is an important station for Merseyrail as it has a strategic location with easy access from the motorway and a very large carpark. With the recently opened Mtogo, the new footbridge with lifts and the other improvements it is now one of our flagship stations.”
Alan Stilwell, Director of Integrated Transport at Merseytravel added “This is a most welcome addition to the station facilities at Hooton. Passengers using this station to get to Liverpool and Chester travel from a wide area including Cheshire and North Wales. Step free access at the station has been on the wish list for well over twenty years and I am delighted to see the new bridge and lifts finally in place. We will continue to work with Network Rail and Merseyrail and also Cheshire West and Chester Council to develop this popular interchange as a major hub of our network.”
Security is provided by an enhanced CCTV and lighting system.
New drainage channels have been provided on the platforms, which have been resurfaced and now incorporate tactile paving.
One of the highlights of the work is that it was carried out without any disruption to train services. The old footbridge remained in use throughout and those sections of the new footbridge that had to be lifted in by crane were hoisted over the railway tracks at night when trains weren’t running.
The project was delivered by J Murphy and Son Ltd for Network Rail, and they and the sub-contractors working for them have been praised for the way they conducted the work.