Disabled groups and rail campaigners have welcomed a decision from Selby District Council to push ahead with proposals for step-free access at Selby Railway Station - allowing wheelchair-bound individuals to navigate the facility easier.
At the end of 2019, ambitious ‘Access For All’ plans were put forward by Network Rail and Selby MP Nigel Adams for two lift terminals to be added to the train station - making it easier and more effective for those with disabilities to travel from one platform to another. Currently, in Selby, rail passengers that use wheelchairs have to call for assistance from rail workers, who are then required to push the individuals over three sets of tracks and across to platforms two and three. The crossing, which also takes them to the other two platforms, is also locked and is reliant upon station staff assistance during staffed hours. As a result, people with reduced mobility, wheelchair passengers and people with pushchairs struggle to access these platforms.
In the past, many campaign groups have called on rail companies to act, due to some people finding it difficult to negotiate the stairs, with the other nearest step-free access station located eight miles away in Wressle. However, under the new step-free access plans, users will be able to call for a lift to take them to and from the platforms, like at York, Leeds and other major Northern stations. Despite talk going quiet during the last two years since the proposals were unveiled, lending partly to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project burst back into life last week after Selby District Council gave the scheme prior approval consent - effectively paving the way for the project to take shape over the next 12 months. Now that the project has got the green light, Network Rail and other partner organisations will be able to move forward with picking a suitable location, materials and the logistics of installing the two lift chambers without impacting other passengers. Following the prior approval consent given by Selby District Council, Phil Dodson, chair of Selby’s Disability Forum, has laid out what this project will mean for people living with disabilities in the area. This includes no longer having to travel to and from Hull to change platforms if no one is available to transport disabled people across the tracks at ‘off-peak’ times.
Phil said: “This scheme will have an amazing impact on people carrying a disability in Selby and the wider district. Having to get someone to help you across the tracks took time and effort. If no one was there at the ticket office, you had to travel to Hull and then go back to Selby to change the platform - which is shocking if you think about it. “It’s something that’s been on our agenda for a while and something that did go silent for some time during the pandemic, but we are grateful progress seems to be happening. “We were consulted at the start of the project when word first came out about it. We’re always glad this happens because it’s easier to fix plans, rather than having to change a design to suit disabled people once it’s been installed.” Another group that has welcomed the step-free announcement is the Selby and District Rail Users group, who have consistently campaigned for “transport for all” across the district’s public transport network. Secretary of the Rail Users group, Terry French, said: “This is another step on the way to making Selby Railway Station accessible for all. “Access to platforms has been an issue for many years at Selby Station as patronage has increased. For many passengers, including those with disability issues, heavy luggage, and families with prams, access to and from platforms two and three via the footbridge is either difficult or impossible. “Transfer via the barrow crossing is unsatisfactory with staff required to assist passengers to safely cross the tracks. "With the number of passenger and freight trains going through the station, finding a gap between trains is often difficult. “Good railway services are an important factor when people decide to come to an area, and accessibility and inclusivity are key issues. Footfall at Selby Station is recovering well, and when lifts are installed, this will further increase the attractiveness of using the train at Selby.”
A mock-up of the step-free access lifts at both sides of Selby Railway Station. (02-09-127 SU)