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Lift failures mean disabled man faces long way home

Steven Powell says he was forced into several detours after repeated faults at Highbury and Islington station

17 July, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Steven Powell outside Highbury and Islington station: ‘It’s humiliating’

A DISABLED man with a degenerative spinal condition was forced to make detours to get home after repeated lift failures at Highbury and Islington station.

Steven Powell, 62, said he arrived at the Overground station three times in one week in June to find the lift out of action.

Mr Powell, who uses an electric wheelchair, is unable to walk more than five paces due to his back pain.

He told the Tribune: “I had to go to Caledonian Road or Canonbury because the lift I would use to go up to street level was out of action and it’s getting a little bit irritating.”

He added: “It’s embarrassing and humiliating. I get that lifts aren’t perfect and they are going to go out of service sometimes, but three times in a week?

“They are not a nice extra for me they are absolutely essential.”

Mr Powell, who lives in Highbury Station Road, yards from the station, said that when he diverted via Canonbury on one occasion the lift was also out of action there.

To avoid being late for work, he has to check Transport for London’s website each day to see if step-free access is available.

He worries about the impact it could have on securing other temporary jobs if he’s late for work.

“You have to turn up really early at the station and you have to have a plan,” he said.

Network Rail, which owns the lifts, said engineers responded to six issues, which were unrelated, between June 21 and 29. Some were due to misuse.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to anyone impacted by recent issues with lifts at Highbury and Islington station.

“Network Rail engineers have visited the site and carried out work to resolve the faults. Due to the nature of the work, the lifts were unable to be used while repairs took place.”

TfL’s general manager of London Overground Rory O’Neill said: “We understand the importance of step-free access to many of our customers and are sorry for the issues with lifts at Canonbury and Highbury and Islington stations.

“Our staff always endeavour to promptly report any lift faults. Most of these are rectified quickly.”

He added: “If a customer arrives at a tube, TfL rail or London Overground station and the lift is unavailable, our staff will help plan an alternative journey to their destination.

“If there isn’t a reasonable alternative route, we would book a taxi at our cost to take them to their destination or another step-free station from where they can continue their journey.”

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