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Campaigners’ joy at Chippenham footbridge start date
Rail access campaigners are “over the moon” to have a start date for work on a new footbridge and lift at Chippenham Station.
Elderly and disabled people and those using pushchairs have been waiting years for promised easier access to railway platforms.
Now it has been announced work is due to start this August and should be finished by the end of the year.
Chippenham MP Duncan Hames this week welcomed a letter from the Transport Secretary, setting out the expected timetable for construction.
In response to a question Mr Hames asked in the House of Commons last month, Patrick McLoughlin wrote: “Contract award should take place by the end of February enabling the project to start on site in early August.
“Work is expected to be complete before Christmas this year.”
Former town councillor Maureen Lloyd formed the Community Access to Rail Travel (CART) group in 2007. Mrs Lloyd, 80, said: “We in CART are all over the moon. We should have had it up and running two years ago. I am absolutely delighted we’ve actually got an indication of a date. Until it happens I shan’t believe it, but at the same time it is a relief we’ve got to this stage.
“There are so many of us elderly and frail finding it increasingly difficult to use the station.”
Wiltshire Council planners gave Network Rail permission in November to replace the 1899-built footbridge and put in a new lift giving access to the platforms from the Cocklebury Road side of the railway. The improvements are being funded by the Government through Network Rail’s Access For All upgrade programme.
A lift on the Old Road side of the bridge may follow as Central Chippenham Partnership pledged to contribute £100,000 towards this, when last month it was given outline planning permission to redevelop Langley Park.
Mr Hames first wrote to First Great Western about the improvements three-and-a-half years ago, and met residents and Network Rail representatives to discuss the project in late 2011.
He said: “Having called for step-free access at Chippenham station for years, I am delighted at the prospect of it finally becoming a reality.
“Now that we’ve secured an additional 80 services a week on the line between Swindon and Westbury, it’s great that Chippenham station is getting the improvements it needs so more people can make use of them.”