Friday 22 Jan 2016
Better travelling experience for passengers as new footbridge and lifts open at Chippenham station
Passengers travelling to and from Chippenham station will now find their journey a much easier experience after a new footbridge and lifts were officially opened by Network Rail today, Friday 22 January, as part of the company’s Railway Upgrade Plan.
The new bridge and lifts greatly improve accessibility at Chippenham by providing, for the first time, a step-free route from the station’s main entrance to both platforms, without the need for staff assistance. This will not only be of benefit to passengers with reduced mobility, but also those travelling with children or heavy luggage or those who simply find stairs a struggle.
The £3m project was mostly funded through the Department for Transport’s ‘Access for All’ scheme, which is designed to improve accessibility at rail stations across Britain by installing lifts and ramps.
The opening ceremony was performed by Chippenham MP, Michelle Donelan, and attended by Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, Mark Langman, members of the orange army who worked on the scheme, and representatives from Great Western Railway (GWR), the train operator that manages the station.
Also in attendance were representatives from the local community including members of the action group, Chippenham Accessible Rail Transport (CART).
Mark Langman, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, said: “Improving accessibility across our rail network forms an important part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. The improvements we have made at Chippenham station will make travelling by train easier and more accessible for huge numbers of passengers travelling on this part of the Great Western Main Line.
“We’re delighted so many members of the community were able to join us today for the opening of the bridge and lifts, one of the many projects we are carrying out to modernise Brunel’s railway and bring it into the 21st century.”
Michelle Donelan MP said: “For too long it has been very difficult for the elderly, disabled and those with children to access Chippenham station so it is fantastic news that, at last, we have the lift access that is long overdue. Thank you to the Department for Transport and Network Rail for the investment in Chippenham. I hope that this is the first step in significant improvements to the station.”
Lynn Edginton, Great Western Railway’s manager for Chippenham station, said: “We recognise the key role that rail travel has in supporting the local and national economy and we are delighted that this improvement has been completed, providing better access for all who use the station.
“During the previous franchise, over £85m was invested across our network of 210 stations by working with industry partners, the Department for Transport and local authorities.”
Rail Minister, Claire Perry, said: "The opening of this new bridge at Chippenham station will provide proper access and make a real difference to people with a disability or those travelling with children.
"We are delivering on our commitment to make journeys better and providing a rail network that everyone can use. By 2019 we will have invested more than £480m improving access to nearly 200 railway stations across the country, including in Wiltshire."
Maureen Lloyd, chairman of CART, said: “How proud would Isambard Kingdom Brunel be to know that 21st century technology has made it possible for his wonderful railway to embrace the wider community. I feel sure that had the time been right he would have installed lifts as well.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to bring ‘Access for All’. You may not readily realise it but you have opened up a new world to so many.”
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 36,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.