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‘We’re desperate for step-free access at station’

Campaigners are backed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as petition is launched demanding another option to stairs at Overground rail stop

11 June, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Debra Thompson at Crouch Hill station

CROUCH Hill railway station is in “desperate” need of step-free access, say campaigners who are calling for better access.

Debra Thompson has launched a petition demanding another option to the current stairs to help the elderly, disabled and parents with prams have easier use of the Overground stop.

Her campaign is supported by ward councillors and Islington North MP and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who in a letter to Transport for London, urged them to bid for funding to get the work done.

Ms Thompson, of Trinder Road, said: “I’d been thinking for years that a lot of the stations on the Barking line have ramps and lifts, but not Crouch Hill. I’m a senior citizen and I find it very difficult if I have to drag my shopping trolley up the stairs. I know disabled people struggle, and so do parents with prams going up. Crouch Hill is desperately crying out for one.”

In 2015/16, more than 800,000 journeys were made from the station, official figures show, and passenger numbers are expected to increase once electrification works on the Gospel Oak to Barking line are complete.

Ms Thompson flanked, from left, by councillors Flora Williamson, Richard Watts and Anjna Khurana

“As it currently stands, the Crouch Hill station is not in a position to support this growth because it is not accessible for all,” Mr Corbyn’s letter warns.

Anjna Khurana, a newly elected Tollington ward councillor, has been directly affected by the lack of step-free access.

Ms Khurana, 41, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006 and in her four years living near the station has chosen not to use it.

She said: “It’s the going up and down the stairs which means at the moment I have to get a bus to Caledonian Road station and go from there and at the moment that’s the best for step-free access. A ramp would just make it so much easier.”

Dot Gibson, secretary of Islington Pensioners’ Forum, said: “Disabled people, older people with mobility problems and people with infants in prams are around a third of the travelling public; they should be safe at all times on all forms of transport and on all stations, platforms, waiting and transit areas.”

Councillor Flora Williamson, Cllr Khurana and Town Hall leader Richard Watts want TfL to bid for funding from the “Access for All” fund, a scheme that sees money allocated by the Department for Transport and the work delivered by Network Rail.

Rory O’Neill, TfL’s general manager for London Overground, said: “London has one of the most accessible transport networks in the world, but we know it can still be difficult for some Londoners to get around. That’s why we are always looking at how we can improve accessibility. We will consider the case for step-free access at Crouch Hill station when DfT and Network Rail next invite recommendations for Access for All funding.”

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