Another of south London’s stations has been transformed with the help of government funding, to make it easier for passengers to get around and to improve the travel experience.
Yesterday (18 April 2013) Rail Minister Norman Baker saw how Earlsfield station has benefitted from more than £5.5 million of investment to provide new lifts and staircases as well as the reconfiguration and expansion of the ticket hall.
It is just one of hundreds of stations to benefit from the hundreds of millions being spent by the department and the rail industry to upgrade stations and improve accessibility.
Work began on the Earlsfield improvements in 2011 and has now been completed. Rail Minister Norman Baker officially opened the revamped station yesterday. He was joined by local MP Sadiq Khan.
Norman Baker said:
Improvements like these help those using the railways. Opening up access at stations and providing step-free routes can make a real difference to wheelchair users and other with limited mobility, as well as parents with buggies.
And everyone feels the benefit of taking a train from stations with improved facilities and layout.
The department’s Access for All and National Station Improvement Programmes (NSIP) are providing hundreds of millions of pounds for upgrades around the country.
Access for All will see funding totalling £370 million providing obstacle-free routes at more than 150 priority rail stations by 2015 and more than 1,000 stations have already received grants for smaller scale access improvements under the programme.
The department has provided £150 million for NSIP over 5 years to provide improvements to passenger facilities at busy stations and has levered in third party funding of £27 million. So far over 300 stations have benefitted.
A further £200 million will be split between two schemes to upgrade more stations between 2014 and 2019. Decisions on where the NSIP money might be best spent are being taken at a local level by Network Rail, which acts as landlord for most stations, and the train operators which run them on a day-to-day basis, to ensure that funding is targeted at the most appropriate stations. Access for All funding will be prioritised at the busiest stations where access needs to be improved, but will also take into account the incidence of disability in the area as well as the views of local authorities and the railway industry.
The next round of both programmes will also put increased emphasis on schemes that are able to attract additional third party contributions in order to maximise the value and efficiency of any particular improvement.
Station improvements make travelling easier and more pleasant and feedback suggests that passengers genuinely appreciate the upgrading and modernising of the buildings and platforms.
Earlier this year independent watchdog organisation Passenger Focus published results of survey showing that customer satisfaction went up by 30% at stations that had benefited from the National Station Improvement Programme. Previous studies have also shown that passenger numbers and satisfaction levels also rise where Access for All projects have been completed.
Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said:
Our research clearly shows that passenger satisfaction with stations increases when the money invested in improvements is targeted at the things that matter most to passengers.
As well as physical station improvements, NSIP is also contributing over £7 million towards a project which will make sure that all information on train running times that is displayed on stations and on-line will originate from a single source. This ‘DARWIN’ project is being delivered by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and during 2014 will see some 40 different systems operating across the network replaced by 1.
Similarly, the Access for All programme has contributed funding to ATOC’s stations made easy website, which allows disabled passengers to decide for themselves whether they can use a station, as well as the new passenger assist system run by ATOC to allow pre-booking of staff help at stations.
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