Walkden, Swinton and Irlam are among 10 train stations being nominated by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Northern Rail to receive funding from the Department for Transport to upgrade to step-free access.
TfGM and Northern Rail’s proposition includes passenger lifts to the platforms to ensure full accessibility for people with reduced mobility, such as the elderly, people with physical disabilities, or parents with young children in buggies.
The stations are being nominated as part of the Government’s “Access for All” plan to improve accessibility in train stations, which made £300m available for the period running 2019-2024, and the final decision is subject to approval by the Department for Transport.
The three stations have only a stepped access to the platforms. They were already included in the Rail Station Accessibility Programme recommendations of 2009, but no funding had been awarded for them.
In order of priority, Walkden is ranked first by TfGM and Northern Rail, as 20 percent of the area’s population is over 65, and the station was used by 301,000 people in 2016/2017. It is a 20 minute drive from the nearest fully accessible train station.
Swinton and Irlam rank respectively second and fourth in the priority list. Swinton station is in a key location near the Civic Centre, but the nearest fully accessible station is Salford Crescent, 6.5km away.
Irlam is in a less densely populated area than the other two, but it is used more (362,000 users in 2016-2017), especially for its park-and-ride facilities.
Mark, from Worsley, who is a regular user of Walkden station, said: “A lift would really make people’s lives easier, especially here, it’s quite a steep set of stairs.
“On a very selfish level as well, I sprained my ankle recently, and I had trouble getting up the stairs. People are struggling with pushchairs, I helped a lady with a huge buggy with twins the other week, it’s difficult.”
Other stations in nominated in Greater Manchester are Daisy Hill, Reddish North, Hindley, Bryn, Flowery Field, Newton for Hyde and Levenshulme.
TfGM and Northern Rail are submitting the nominations tomorrow. Final decisions are expected in spring.