On Wednesday in the House of Commons two MPs participated in a meaningful debate on the theme of access by disabled people to railways stations. The debate covered far too many words to include in this piece but there are some of the critical ones that were raised and the whole debate can be obtained here from “They Work for You” website on this specific location. The two MPs are Chris Heaton-Harris who is the current Minister of State for Department for Transport and Nusrat Ghani who worked in the same Department as a more Junior Minister from 2018 to 2020. Given that the Conservative Party have been leading the UK Government from 2010 to now which is 2021 and the following text demonstrates that conditions are not very positive, the fact there is a clear call for things to reach perfection over the next 9 years raises all sorts of questions that need to be answered by the Government if their words are to be taken seriously. Clearly the fact that things are currently very inadequate and the Government has already had 11 years to work on this subject is one of the concerns. Thus we need some very clear indications of how the change will be achieved. When Nusrat Ghani was speaking she explained
Having served as a Transport Minister, I was once responsible for delivering the groundbreaking accessibility strategy called the inclusive transport strategy to ensure that public transport was more inclusive and better accessible for those with disabilities. It was actually the world’s first strategy to align itself with the United Nations accessibility goals, and it paved the way for equal access for disabled people on all transport networks. It promotes provisions such as step-free access, changing facilities at motorway service stations and the enhanced passenger assistance service.
So she then goes on to say
Some 41% of rail stations in Britain are not step-free, and in the south-east this rises to 52%
There was a lot more elements stated by Nusrat but the connection to these few words emerged in the response from Chris Heaton Harris who stated relatively early in his statement
By 2030, we want disabled people to have the same access to transport as anyone else, and if physical infrastructure remains a barrier—or a wall—then assistance must play a role in guarantee-Ings those rights. An accessible transport network is central to the Government’s wider ambition of building a society that works for all. Regardless of the nature of a person’s disability, they should have the same access to transport and the same opportunity to travel as everyone else.
As it happens in the other words from Nusrat Ghani most of which referred to a small number of Stations and indeed the train route that is part of her constitution that said she did state in reference to some of the recent improvements that
we have had some success, especially at Eridge and Crowborough stations, thanks to our Conservative Government. I am grateful for the funds that I have already secured for fantastic accessibility upgrades to our local stations.
So we clearly need to know how the 41% of stations in the UK and 52% in the South East will receive these funds and how the work will be carried out?