A COLLEGE student from Swinton has started a petition to ensure that all northern rail train stations have disabled access.
Ashley Armstrong, 21, assumed he could catch a train from his local Swinton rail station to his IT course at Bolton College during the bus strike.
But Armstrong, who suffers from cerebral palsy and requires disabled access, was angered to discover the station has no disabled access.
The station features three flights of stairs with no accessible lift. The ticket office is unmanned in off peak hours. This meant that upon attendance there would be nobody to assist Armstrong.
Armstrong then set up a petition online to ensure Northern Rail supply disabled access across all stations.
He explained how he felt it was a serious issue. “I looked online for tickets and was shocked to find they had no disabled access.”
His petition was shared on Facebook and after three days had been signed by more than 700 people who are in support of the changes. 2,492 people have signed the petition in total.
Other people have suggested it is an issue across other railway stations owned by Northern Rail.
— Catherine Heuston (@Kitcatheuston) December 12, 2017
Lizzie Worthington,25, a single mother with local family connections travels using the station with her four-month- old son weekly to Kirkby Merseyside.
She explained: “Swinton train station is dangerous, it’s a nightmare most times I come to go home to Liverpool and there’s no one here I’m terrified I’m going to drop the pram down the steps.”
Armstrong was unaware at the time of the Passenger Assist programme. Northern Rail offers this programme to assist disabled people.
A spokesman for Northern Rail said: “We participate in a system called Passenger Assist. This is an industry-wide system used to book assistance for passengers during their journey and to reserve seats and wheelchair spaces on trains where available.”
The spokesman added: “We will provide assistance, when booked through Passenger Assist, at any station during the hours that trains are scheduled to serve that station. Details of these times will be included on the National Rail Enquiries station pages.
“Out of hours assistance may be provided by alternative means or via alternative transport if our staff are not available to assist. In special circumstances where there is no viable alternative we may consider sending a member of staff to assist our customers where it is both reasonable and practical to do so.
“We can book assistance for an entire rail journey, even where part of the journey is with other train operators or where our services call at stations not managed by Northern.”
There were no details given about issues with pram access.
Armstrong explained: “I just think people are just complaining not doing anything but if we come together as a community hopefully we can get it changed.”
Walkden railway station will be having a £1 million transformation to make it more accessible. New plans for a park and ride are to feature disabled parking spaces. There are no current plans to transform Salford train stations with no disabled access.
Ashley Armstrong’s petition can be found here.