Levenshulme station to get disabled access but more must be done say campaigners
- Funding secured after years of campaigning by Friends of Levenshulme Station
- Afzal Khan MP says it is unacceptable less that 60% of station in Greater Manchester have step-free access
- 'One of the main barriers is people's attitudes' says disability campaigner
Levenshulme train station is to be given step-free access after years of campaigning by residents who say society must do more for passengers with disabilities.
The station has the highest number of passengers of rail stations with stepped access within Greater Manchester, excluding Manchester Oxford Road, and is one of the main feeder stations to Manchester Piccadilly.
Pauline Johnston, from Friends of Levenshulme Station, said her "heart is aglow" after years of letters, surveys, petitions and campaigns.
Last year Levenshulme station was refurbished with new lights and flood mitigation but residents accused rail bosses of neglecting the need for disabled access.
Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, said he was "delighted" with the news, adding: “It is unacceptable that in the 21st century less than 60% of Greater Manchester’s train stations have step free access.”
This is fantastic news and long overdue, huge congratulations to all who campaigned for these changes!— Streets for People - Levenshulme and Burnage (@s4plb) October 27, 2021
However, more action is needed to make the streets in Levenshulme safe to travel once you leave the station, eg. street clutter and pavement parking on the A6 and Albert road. https://t.co/MD0dSSammM
Greater Manchester transport commissioner Chris Boardman said: “London has benefited from amazing public transport for decades; now it’s Greater Manchester’s time.”
Streets for People congratulated campaigners on the news but highlighted the need to make the streets in Levenshulme safe once people leave the station, highlighting ‘pavement parking’ as a particular cause for concern.
“Regardless of how people get around, they should be able to walk our streets easily and make the journey to and from the station without having to put themselves at risk,” a spokesperson said on Twitter.
Melissa Parker, a member of the Manchester disabled people’s engagement panel, told NQ that although she is glad to hear the news, more must be done to improve the everyday lives of disabled people.
She said: “I’ve had to plan every single moment of my life from birth.”
Melissa shared an experience that happened to her last month when the lift at Piccadilly Station was broken forcing her to wait an hour for a taxi.
She added: “This is a regular occurrence for disabled people.”
The lift in Piccadilly Station to platforms 13 and 14 is being replaced next year with work starting in January 2022. A stairlift will be installed to the staircase of platform 14 while work takes place.
We have to push back and educate where we can
Scott Green, Network Rail head of stations and passenger experience in the North West, said: “This investment will greatly improve reliability for passengers.”
Melissa said she has had many experiences with badly-trained staff which impacted negatively on her mental health.
She added: "One of the main barriers is people's attitudes."
She played down any indication of meaningful progress. adding: “Fifteen years ago we were having the same conversations and I haven’t seen any improvements in education or attitudes.
“Disabled people are conditioned to think they have to adapt to their environment – rather than it be adapted for us.
"So we have to push back and educate where we can.”
Melissa welcomed signs of progress such as the formation of the engagement panel, which was formed in March this year to give advice to public services and businesses about how to be more inclusive.