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Chippenham railway bridge plan is on track with supporters
8:00am Friday 10th May 2013 in News
Groups for disabled people in Chippenham are backing plans for a replacement footbridge and the installation of a lift at the town’s railway station.
The plans, submitted by Network Rail, would allow disabled and elderly people to reach platforms one and two by using a lift at the front of the station.
The existing platforms are only accessible via a second footbridge with stairs.
Plans for a similar scheme were approved by Wiltshire Council in March 2012, but since then the design has been amended to make sure it falls within Network Rail’s land ownership.
Margaret Meadows, of Seymour Road, chairman of Chippenham PHAB Club, which provides social activities for people with physical disabilities and learning difficulties, said the plans would make the station more accessible for disabled people, as well as those who use walking aids.
She said: “Transport is very important, especially if you’re disabled, as you may not be able to drive a car and may be reliant on trains or buses.
“If we’re going to the station as a group, we have to phone up and be there much earlier so they can organise someone to walk with us across [the tracks] when there’s no train there.”
The footbridge was built around 1899 to allow pedestrian access over the railway track. The station itself dates back to 1841.
Plans to replace the bridge began when the last Labour government made money available through the Department for Transport.
Maureen Lloyd, of Honeybrook Close, formed the Community Access to Rail Travel group in 2007 and has been working with Network Rail on the designs.
She said: “I started the group to put pressure on because I knew that the government of the day had put money aside. It looked like we were going to lose this money because it had to be spent by 2015.
“I hope no-one is going to object. The planners have worked tirelessly for years on the design and what we want now is a smooth passage before we lose that money.
“It’s about time we got a lift. I can’t wait to be the first to press the button and get in.”
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