Kew Bridge Station To Get Step Free Access When Stadium Opens

Gunnersbury to be 'explored' for accessibility but Chiswick loses out

Current access to Chiswick station. Picture: Google Streetview


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Plans to improve accessibility at Kew Bridge rail station when the Brentford football stadium is opened have been announced. However, other Chiswick rail and underground stations are not included in the latest funding round to improve step-free access.

The London-bound platform at Kew Bridge is to be made step free and the council is working with South Western Railway and Network Rail to explore how step-free access from the country-bound platform to the street can also be delivered. A feasibility study is due to progress later this year.

For Gunnersbury station, Hounslow Council said it was continuing to work alongside TfL, Network Rail and the owner of Chiswick Tower 'to explore how development in this area could deliver improved access from the street to the platform, including lifts'. This suggests that upgrading of facilities is quite a way off, as no feasibility study has been carried out yet.

The main beneficiaries in the latest round of funding are Isleworth, which will get a lift, and Syon Lane, which gets £2.4million funding for improvements in the near future. On the underground network, Osterley station will be upgraded to step-free access in 2019/20, and accessibility improvements to Boston Manor station are scheduled for 2023/24.

An outline feasibility study had already been completed and part of the £750,000 had been set aside for 2018/2019.The station is set to see a significant increase in usage due to a very high level of development in the surrounding area, including the enabling development for Brentford Football Club’s new stadium.

The scheme at Syon Lane is being financed by a cocktail of funding streams including; Sky, Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), Transport for London (TfL) and a contribution from SWR themselves. The total cost is £2.4m including contingency.

The scheme at Isleworth Station is financed by Hounslow Council's joint bid with South Western Railway for funding through the Department for Transport (DfT) Access for All programme, to finance improved accessibility, part of the Government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy. Overall 73 stations have been selected to benefit from this additional £300m fund throughout the network.

For any real progress to take place it is necessary to secure several sources of funding. For example last year, a bid for funding to improve step free access at Chiswick Rail station was declined by a single member decision at Hounslow Council.

The bid for Chiswick station was for money to pay for a feasibility study which would have cost around £100,000. The station is currently not fully accessible, with a footbridge the only way to transfer between platforms and the plan was to ensure step free access from platform to street. It was concluded last year that funding was not needed until 2021/22 and that it was more appropriate to give backing to projects that were more advanced in planning.

A total of £50,000 was earmarked for a study but that is not sufficient for a wholesale feasibility project, which suggests that full accessibility for this station is a very long way off, perhaps decades.

In terms of Turnham Green station, the most recent news was when Cllr Andrew Steed, who represents Southfield ward, contacted the Mayor’s Office last year about the issue and after a long delay he received a response saying, "In December 2016 TfL and City Hall announced a £200m programme that will see step free access installed in around 30 Tube stations by March 2022.

"Turnham Green and Chiswick Park are not currently being considered under TfL’s Step Free Access Programme. This is because they did not meet the criteria we use in order to assess which stations are the best fit for the programme. These criteria include cost or availability of third party funding, simple construction and strategic importance (for example it must serve a town centre, interchange with other transport providers or be in a location where there are currently limited accessible transport options).

"It is possible that Turnham Green and Chiswick Park may be considered for the programme at a later date if circumstances change – for example if funding became available from a third party such as a local land developer or the local authority."

Proponents of funding for step free access at Turnham Green, Gunnersbury and Chiswick point out that none of the stations in the area are fully accessible requiring people with limited mobility to travel to Hammersmith or Acton Town to travel on the train network.

Commenting on the latest round of funding, Councillor Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport at Hounslow Council said, “Hounslow Council is committed to doing all we can to encourage more people to use public transport and other sustainable modes of transport. Upgrading our stations to meet the expectations of the twenty first century commuter is a key part of our strategy to ease congestion on the roads and reduce air pollution.”

April 17, 2019

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