I’ve just come out of the latest meeting regarding step-free access at Biggleswade station. The latest developments are as follows:
~ following a previous meeting with our Bedfordshire Rail Access Network team I’m delighted to say that Network Rail have increased the width of the proposed walkway ramp to 2.2 metres (2 metres between hand rails) a 20cm increase compared to the original design and now exceeding rather than just meeting guidance minimums.
~ improvements have also been made to visibility along the ramp structure as well as widening the walkway at the bend prior to the new bridge containing the lifts to each platform
~ a location has been found for accessible toilets/changing places area and this work, while still currently in the design stage, is scheduled for completion by September this year
~ looking at the draft plans the accessible toilets will be sited at the current location of the covered bike rack area which will be replaced by an enlarged bike rack area, situated just to the left of the station entrance. This area will be covered by CCTV. I did request that a secure caged area is provided as bike theft is an ongoing issue.
~ providing there are no spanners put in the works, Network Rail are hopeful of a further acceleration to the project and are aiming for an opening date for the lifts of late Summer 2022. This is a 15 months improvement from the original timescale of Autumn 2023. However, as with many projects, we should be aware that unexpected delays often occur
~ there is still some disagreement about the design of the bus interchange. Unfortunately space is very limited and what is currently proposed is not ideal. However, an integrated transport hub with seamless and step-free access between bus and rail is essential. Biggleswade town centre would benefit greatly from a pedestrianised area where the bus station is located currently. Further, the ongoing discussions about the design of the bus interchange must not delay the installation of lifts at the station.
The above improvements highlight the importance of involving people with disabilities from the beginning and during the planning and design stage until completion. Many thanks to my colleagues on the Beds Rail Access team. There is still much to do and we will continue to attend meetings until completion.
Do feel free to follow our Bedfordshire Rail Access Network page and get in touch if you have any questions.
Chair Beds Rail Access Network