crossrailroof1906cDisability campaigners were celebrating today after Crossrail bosses agreed to a £19m deal to make all its stations step-free.

The stations at Seven Kings, Maryland, Manor Park and Hanwell will be upgraded ahead of Crossrail fully opening in 2019 meaning all Crossrail stations within London will be step-free.

Step-free access was already committed for 33 of the 40 stations on the route. The new funding will mean 37 are disability-friendly, including every Crossrail station in London. All stations will be staffed whenever trains are running, providing for disabled passengers the priority assistance service already in operation across the London Underground and London Overground networks.

Step-free stations have lifts or ramps – or a combination of both – so that passengers do not have to use escalators or stairs to move between the street and the platform

The cost of improvements to the four stations expected to be around £19m. TfL is putting pressure on the DfT to secure funding for step free access at the remaining three Crossrail stations; Taplow, Langley and Iver.

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group and transport spokesperson, said: “This is incredibly welcome news.  Today’s announcement is long overdue – indeed it should have been a condition in legislation that every Crossrail station was fully accessible.

“However, while celebrating this development on Crossrail let us not forget for one moment that access improvements that are still desperately necessary across the London Underground.

“The rollout of lifts and step free access schemes at London Underground stations needs to be accelerated and there are many more tube stations which would benefit from mobile ramps.  Real improvements are also needed in the reliability of lifts across the London Underground network.”

Earlier this year the Standard revealed that Westminster station is the Tube’s most notorious for broken lifts which were out of action for a third of the year. At the flagship station, the five elevators broke down 99 times last year meaning they were out of service or more than 2,000 hours. Only with all the lifts functioning can these stations operate with full “step-free” access.

Boris Johnson, said:  “The Tube was built at a time when accessibility was not top of the priority list and that’s something we’ve long been battling to rectify. Great progress has been made in making an ever-growing number of stations step free, and while the picture is far from perfect, this injection of cash is another step in the right direction. As we have also made clear in our pledge to make Crossrail step-free, this is all part of our wider efforts to ensure that London has a transport network that is open and accessible for all.”

Last week a wheelchair user attempted to ‘Race The Tube’ in a bid to raise awareness of London Underground access for disabled people. Anthony Ince, a 43-year-old cerebral palsy-sufferer, was foiled because their was no lift and the film showed him sitting at the top of the stairs as the train leaves the station.

London Evening Standard