Disabled campaigners and their allies have called on the transport secretary to restore “vital” government funding for projects to improve access to rail stations across England, Wales and Scotland.
In a letter signed by more than 50 organisations, Transport for All (TfA) – which campaigns for an accessible transport system – calls on Chris Grayling to restore tens of millions of pounds of funding for the Access for All scheme that has been deferred by the government.
The letter says that deferring half of all planned Access for All projects means that the “already slow progress on rail access has all but ground to a halt”.
The decision by the chair of Network Rail – later rubber-stamped by Grayling – to cut Access for All funding for 2014-19 from £102 million to £55 million, with the rest carried over to 2019-24, was first revealed by Disability News Service last year.
The letter has been sent as Grayling is due today (Thursday) to announce future levels of Network Rail funding, which TfA says provides an “opportunity to get things back on track”.
But the department’s Accessibility Action Plan, published in August, pledges only that the government will deliver funding already announced – including the deferred funding – in full, and that it will “continue to seek to extend the Access for All programme further in the future”.
The letter calls on Grayling to instead “invest in the potential of Deaf and disabled people” and reverse the decision to defer the Access for All funding, as well as commit to further Access for All funding after 2020 through “an ambitious long-term plan for making our railways fully accessible”.