Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Moves toward better access at Streatham Station

It seems that there are now some potential plans to try and improve Streatham Station's accessibility a little in the short-term.

In recent years, both Streatham Hill and Streatham Common station have been made more accessible for those with mobility impairments and difficulties, most notably with the introduction of lifts. However Streatham Station has yet to have the necessary investment or even a shorter-term solution solution which might enable everyone in Streatham to use it.

This is particularly disappointing as visitors to the station will have noticed that there is what looks like the potential for level access on both sides of the station, from the Hideaway and Streatham Business Centre car park on one side, and from a walkway on the other.

The history is as follows: In 2005 the Government allocated additional investment of £370 million to be spent specifically on improving access to many UK stations. This investment is known as the Access for All funding and is in addition to expenditure determined through new franchises. This funding was phased over 10 years to 2015.

To establish how the Access for All funding should best be spent, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) consulted in 2005 and under the Railways Act 2005 responsibility for taking this forward was transferred to the DfT. The results of this were used to inform the development of the Railways for All Strategy as published on the DfT’s website. In the Streatham area both Streatham Common and Streatham Hill benefitted from step free access with lifts under this scheme, but not Streatham Station.

I made some enquiries through Green Assembly member Darren Johnson, to the Department for Transport and also to Southern who operate the rail network, to see what the future plans were. It it turns out that whilst the necessary investment still seems a long way off, they are exploring some shorter-term solutions.

This is the response I received from Southern:

"We do have some possible options to look at with regard to Streatham but they are subject to working with adjacent land owners and the local council to provide a step free route. We are in liaison with Lambeth Council about the stations access and have a meeting with them in the near future to discuss the options."

There is potentially some small funding available to help this to happen:

"Southern currently invests in access improvements via the Minor Works Programme, an annual ring fenced Southern budget solely used to improve access at stations for schemes like ramps, automatic doors, adjustable height ticket office windows, side gates, improved contrasting stair nosings and handrails etc. We also work with local stakeholders (for example councils) to find ways of working together to get maximum investment in the schemes. We have also been awarded an annual budget this year for Access for All Small Scheme improvements by the Department of Transport (DfT) which includes similar schemes. Lift schemes are outside the scope of these budgets and are covered by the DfTs Access for All Major schemes traditionally delivered by Network Rail.

"Streatham was not one of the stations selected nationally for investment under the Access for All funding on the current programme. Therefore there are no plans within the current financial rail period to provide lifts under the Access for All scheme at Streatham and the Department for Transport are yet to announce their ongoing plans for station accessibility to include lift schemes from 2015 onwards. The options we will look at in the near future will therefore not include installing lifts at the station."

So whilst there are, as yet, no plans for lift access, it may be that access can be improved through negotiations between the council, and those owning land around the station, using the Minor Works Programme budget. These negotiations are ongoing. We'll keep you updated when we hear of any progress or developments.

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