A wheelchair-bound businessman has had to travel miles out of his way just to go to work -- because Kirkby train station is still not disabled-friendly.
“It is absolutely disgusting,” blasted Ed Lowe, 32, who lives in Newark. “In the year 2015, you would think that everywhere would have level access.”
Now the campaign to upgrade the station has been stepped up, with the support of Ashfield’s Labour MP, Gloria De Piero.
Mr Lowe is a marketing officer for Dipsu, a Kirkby-based organisation that advises and supports the disabled, elderly and vulnerable. But when he travels by train from his home town to Dipsu’s head office, he cannot get off at Kirkby. Instead he has to go all the way to Mansfield, from where he must track his way back by taxi.
“The taxis, there and back, cost £24, and the whole journey cost £41, which is ridiculous,” said Mr Lowe, who has cerebral palsy. “Staff do help you with ramps to get off the train, but you can’t get out of the station because of all the steps. Sutton Parkway station is the same on one side. Loads of people are affected. Reasonable adjustments need to be made.”
The Kirkby station, which opened in 1996, is operated by East Midlands Trains (EMT). The law requires all station operators to “take reasonable steps to ensure that they do not discriminate against disabled people”. Now EMT is offering a free taxi service from Kirkby to Sutton Parkway “when disabled passengers book travel assistance”.
Said a spokesman: “Most of the rail network was built many gerenations ago when the needs of passengers with reduced mobility were, regrettably, not taken into account. We are working hard to put that right.”
ANGRY Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero says it is “unacceptable in this day and age” that Kirkby train station has no disabled access, and is demanding that rail chiefs and government ministers put it right.
“This will not go away until something is done,” she said. “I will continue to keep up the pressure and raise every case like Ed Lowe’s, so that rail chiefs and ministers realise just what every disabled passenger has to go through. It is also a nightmare for parents with young children in prams and pushchairs.”
When Ms De Piero wrote to the government, she was told that access at hundreds of stations was being improved across the country, but that Kirkby was not one of those put forward for funding because it was only the 1,488th busiest of 2,500 stations, based on footfall figures.