London Underground managing director Mike Brown last week admitted that plans to provide step free access to a third of London’s Tube stations had been ditched ahead of talks about spending cuts.
Brown told NCE’s annual London Rail conference that the ambition was no longer deliverable, and that schemes like the expansion of Victoria station were far more important to protect.
“It is tough, but it is really difficult to foresee a time when step-free access will be where we want it to be,” said Brown.
“Even getting to a position where there are a number of stations across the network that could act as hubs [for disabled people to change transport modes] now seems ambitious.”
London Underground currently has 58 step-free stations. But Transport for London’s (TfL’s) latest 2009/10 business plan says that it has had to stop work at Osterley, Ladbroke Grove, Amersham, West Kensington, Newbury Park and Greenford stations.
“It is tough, but it is really difficult to foresee a time when step-free access will be where we want it to be”
Instead, TfL has decided to protect major schemes at Victoria, Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road which will include step-free access. Providing accessibility at the key 2012 Olympic Games stations at Green Park and Southfields is also a priority.
Brown said the £695M Victoria station improvement - which will increase the capacity of the station by 50% as well as providing step free access - was a classic example of project that was not “nice to have” but “absolutely fundamental”.
“At the moment, we simply cannot get enough people in to the station to take advantage of the Victoria Line Upgrade.” The Victoria Line Upgrade will increase capacity on the line by 20% through new track, trains and signalling.