Call for action on disabled access

Train operator First Capital Connect has no plans to make St Neots station accessible to people in wheelchairs or parents with small children in buggies. The company says its offer of a free taxi to Sandy or Huntingdon stations satisfies the Disability Di

Train operator First Capital Connect has no plans to make St Neots station accessible to people in wheelchairs or parents with small children in buggies.

The company says its offer of a free taxi to Sandy or Huntingdon stations satisfies the Disability Discrimination Act's requirement to make "reasonable provision" to overcome the obstacle.

Newly-elected Liberal Democrat Huntingdonshire councillor Bob Eaton, who is disabled, is urging the train company to act.

He said the Lowes Farm development, which will see 1,200 new homes built on the east side of the railway, will include an extension to the footbridge and a new station access from the east, but this would not solve the problem.

All four platforms are islands within the tracks, so passengers must use the bridge to reach the trains.

The East Coast main line is a 125mph railway and far too busy for staff to push wheelchairs across, as used to happen at rural stations.

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Cllr Eaton said: "There's no satisfactory disabled access at any station between Peterborough and Stevenage.

"With Cambourne and St Neots expanding, there will be a lot more people using the station, and some of them will be disabled. The solution would be to install lifts to reach the footbridge and the platforms."

A spokesman for First Capital Connect said disabled access for St Neots would be on the agenda at the company's next monthly meeting with the infrastructure owner.

He acknowledged St Neots was "not disabled-friendly", but said the company had made special provision to overcome that, including free taxis and a dedicated helpline.

He said: "If funds were available, we would certainly put in lifts, but there are no plans to do that at the moment.

"We accept that we have a responsibility to comply with the Act and we believe we are doing that in the arrangements we have put in place to overcome the problem.

INFORMATION: First Capital Connect's free helpline for disabled travellers is on 0800 0582844.

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