New hope for disabled access at Stamford railway station

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THERE is fresh hope that access for disabled people could be installed at Stamford railway station.

Passengers with mobility problems who cannot manage the stairs on the footbridge are unable to cross the line to reach the Oakham-bound trains.

It means they have to catch a train to Peterborough and then travel by rail back through Stamford. Passengers arriving from Peterborough have to go to Oakham and then come back.

The problem is caused by the station having only one entrance, on the Peterborough-bound side of the tracks.

But now the Burghley House Preservation Trust says it would be willing to negotiate with Network Rail over providing access to the Oakham-bound platform.

It owns Stamford AFC’s ground which is next to the railway lines and wants to build 54 homes there.

People have been calling for disabled access at the station for more than five years. Until 2006, disabled passengers were able to cross the line providing they were accompanied by a rail worker.

A trust spokesman said it was “always happy to consider suggestions that might improve facilities for the residents of Stamford.”

He said there were issues, including the steep bank “which does not readily lend itself to providing disabled access”.

He added: “Secondly, disabled access to this side of the station is not something the trust could achieve in isolation as much of the access would depend on the provision of entry to the station and work thereafter by Network Rail.

“We are however happy to consider possible options, particularly while the plans are still in the early stages and would be delighted to open discussions with Network Rail to try to find a solution.”

Network Rail owns the railway lines and is responsible for infrastructure at the station.

Its spokesman said: “The Department for Transport funds improvements to station accessibility via its ring-fenced Access for All fund.

“However, Stamford has so far not been shortlisted under the scheme.

“Network Rail will, of course, gladly discuss potential improvements to accessibility at Stamford station relating to developments in the surrounding area.”

A spokesman for East Midlands Trains also said it was working closely with Network Rail to make “station improvements for our customers”.

East Midlands Trains does pay for taxis for disabled passengers forced to make a detour by rail if a train is unavailable for them.

Val Harvey, from the Stamford U3A group, lives in Garratt Road and has written to the trust suggesting a slope from the new homes planned by Burghley.

In her letter, she said: “From my sitting room, I regularly witness the struggles of mothers with pushchairs, the elderly with heavy cases but not wheelchair users as they cross the footbridge to get to town.

“Would it not be an admirable example of joined up working to take this opportunity to serve the people of Stamford and our visitors by providing a welcoming gateway to our town from platform two of the station by providing a zigzag slope from the football site?”

About two years ago, Network Rail proposed to replace the steps on the bridge with a ramp but campaigners said it would be too steep to push a wheelchair up.

The trust and Stamford AFC are working in partnership to demolish the Daniels stadium in Kettering Road and want to build a new football stadium in Ryhall Road. As part of the application, there would also be 20 affordable homes in Barnack Road.