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Rail stations to be made accessible

Rail Minister, Tom Harris, has announced additional funding for upgrades to railway stations across England and Wales, to make rail travel more accessible for disabled and older people and parents with pushchairs.

The Department for Transport's £370m Access for All programme funds the redevelopment of station infrastructure to provide step-free access from the station entrance to platforms, in addition to a range of more accessible facilities, such as improved lighting, hearing induction loops and passenger information screens.

Forty more stations, including Stalybridge, Rotherham, Walthamstow Central, Peterborough, Hemel Hempstead, Canterbury West, Alnmouth and Severn Tunnel Junction, will benefit under Main Scheme funding.

A new selection of stations in Scotland is also expected to be announced by DfT. Network Rail will carry out feasibility studies at each station over the next 18 months to determine what changes need to be made, before they launch into the design and construction of the enhanced facilities.

The upgrades are planned for completion between 2012 and 2015.

The Department will also contribute £6.5m from the Small Schemes fund towards a £16.7m total investment, match-funded by train companies and local authorities, to upgrade facilities at a further 223 stations during 2008/09.

This funding is set to deliver a wide range of infrastructure including more ramps and lifts, blue badge parking spaces, and improved passenger information systems. The Small Schemes programme is forecast to continue every year until 2015.

Rail Minister Tom Harris said: “More people than ever before are taking the train but for some it can be like facing an obstacle course. That is why we have already invested £18m under Small Schemes funding to update train stations and make catching a train as easy as possible. I'm happy to announce this latest tranche of stations to receive Access for All funding, which will make a significant improvement to people’s journeys.”