Will the Railway lifts ever work?

Maybe… Disability campaigners in Totnes have cautiously welcomed a commitment by GWR and Network Rail to finally complete the installation of lifts as part of the pedestrian bridge that began construction well over a year ago.

The new bridge, with the all-important lift access, was completed last year as part of a £1.5m scheme to improve access to station facilities for all. However, the brand-new lifts installed by the contractors Dyer & Butler, have never worked since the bridge was opened – much to the annoyance of disabled and elderly passengers and those with heavy luggage.

Now, according to Inclusive Totnes, a network aiming to overcome access and inclusion barriers and build a sense of belonging for people with disabilities, after months of lobbying by politicians, councillors and passengers, the lifts are scheduled to begin working by the end of October or early November. However, similar promises have been made earlier this year so campaigners are waiting to see whether this time the lifts are made operational.

Image courtesy of www.railwaymagazine.co.uk

Sarah Collinson, co-founder of Inclusive Totnes, said “The new lifts are a big step forward in improving access to station facilities – but only if they work. 

“Part of the problem is that there has been no information provided on when the issue would be resolved which has been incredibly frustrating. Even the station staff seemed to be in the dark. To make it worse, earlier promises to complete the works have simply not materialised. Our hope now is the GWR and Network Rail will make good on their promises

Working lifts will make a significant difference to the experience of using Totnes station but even then Sarah explains that more should be done to improve the facilities for a station used by over 7000,000 people a year – a significant proportion who will have mobility or other disabilities.  “A working lift is one thing, but we believe GWR and Network Rail must do more including putting in place an additional ticket machine and having disabled toilets on both sides.

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