Disabled access delays branded ‘disgraceful’

Baroness Kramer visits Leighton Buzzard Railway Station
Baroness Kramer visits Leighton Buzzard Railway Station

A month-long delay on disabled facilities at Leighton train station has ended– but only after the rail minister was personally brought into the affair.

Network Rail had been due to open two new lifts at the station last month, as part of a scheme to improve disabled access at the station.

But the work was held up for more than a month after a series of faults with an emergency phone line.

The problem meant that phones placed in the lifts did not work and the facility was therefore not fit to be opened to the public.

Fury over the delay led Leighton Buzzard Society officer John Sharp to get in touch with South West Beds MP Andrew Selous, who in turn contacted rail minister Claire Perry.

It was only after Ms Perry wrote to Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne that the work was completed earlier this month.

Mr Sharp told the LBO: “It was a disgraceful situation which has put a black mark against Network Rail.

“The scheme was supposed to have been completed in the Spring but it kept getting pushedback. Eventually the lifts should have been ready in early December before this problem occurred.

“It became shambolic that it wasn’t fixed and when it was they opened it by stealth, obviously they thought it better to do it quietly.”

Mr Selous added: “I was originally asked to open the lifts in December, then there was silence and they pushed it back. I got quite exasperated with the situation so I took the matter to the rail minister.

“She shouldn’t have had to have got involved but I didn’t know what else to do.

“We needed the lifts to be working as soon as possible.”

Network Rail failed to respond when asked by the LBO about the delays.