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Heavy use by blind passengers makes extension essential, says RNIB

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CONSTRUCTION OF phase two of the King's Cross underground station expansion is vital for blind people who struggle with hazards in the existing layout.

King's Cross station is especially important to the blind as it is the nearest station to the London headquarters of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

RNIB campaigns officer Nicholas Russell said the second phase of underground station work would provide vital lifts giving access to Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Line platforms.

Stairs down to these lines were removed in November 2003 as part of phase one (see above). They will be replaced by lifts, but these are part of phase two.

Passengers with guide dogs are not allowed to take them on escalators.

Instead they have to use the entrance to the King's Cross Thameslink station 200m away to get access to underground platforms using a series of staircases.

But the RNIB HQ is close to the main station entrance.

'This is a very long way round and is disorientating and unsafe for blind users, ' said Russell.

'It is also a much less salubrious area and unfortunately people with guide dogs or white sticks are seen as easy targets for muggings.'

London Underground said it has made staff available to accompany guide dog users along Pentonville Road to the Euston Road exit. It also stops escalators for guide dog users during off peak hours.

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