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Friday, August 30, 2013

AM's concern over Minister's statement on stations access

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has expressed concern about the “limited” response provided to him by the Transport Minister on improvements to disabled access at Chirk and Ruabon railway stations, despite her predecessor having detailed direct Welsh Government engagement.

Mr Isherwood, who is  Co-Chair of the Assembly Cross Party Group on Disability, wrote to the Minister, Edwina Hart, at the beginning of the month asking what plans the Welsh Government has to improve disabled access at Chirk and Ruabon railway stations and when this will happen.

After receiving an initial response from her stating only that “rail infrastructure matters are not devolved”, Mr Isherwood wrote again requesting further detail  in the context of a 2011 statement by her predecessor Carl Sargeant AM.

Mr Isherwood has now received her subsequent reply, in which she simply states that “under the UK Government National Programme, there is a scheme to improve access at Chirk Station. These improvement works are due for completion in 2014. At Ruabon Station, improvements can be considered should further funding become available from the UK Government.  

In contrast her predecessor’s December 2011 Statement when Chirk, and four other stations (Llandaf, Machynlleth, Radyr and Ystrad Mynach) were awarded funding from the UK Government included: “The  (Welsh Government) Department For Transport will fund 50% of the costs of this programme at those stations and my officials are currently finalising funding details with each relevant regional transport consortia, which will fund the remaining 50% of costs over the lifetime of these projects.
“Improving accessibility at railway stations in Wales is a key priority for the Welsh Government , and will allow more passengers to use the rail network. Although this is a non devolved area, we have funded station improvements from our own budget, where we have resource available and believe this is the right thing to do.”
Mr Isherwood said:  “The current Minister has established a track record for downgrading commitments to transport infrastructure in North Wales and her reply is simply not good enough. The people of our region must not be disabled by her apparent low level of interest in their needs and deserve a proper update to the matters detailed in her predecessor’s statement.

 “It is totally unacceptable that the Transport Minister is so dismissive of the situation.  Disabled rail users should have the same access to travel as every other rail user and I will continue pressing the Minister until they do.”  

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