The Government has announced additional money which will allow Flitwick Station to become a fully accessible station with new lifts to be installed.
The new funding has been welcomed by Center Parcs, community leaders and Thameslink rail managers.
The announcement was made in the recent budget, and the station will now benefit from a share of the Access for All funding.
A new footbridge with lifts will be installed at Flitwick station and will be a welcome addition for wheelchair users, the elderly, parents with prams as well as those with suitcases.
Flitwick missed out on the last round of Access for All. The matter was raised in the House of Commons by local MP Nadine Dorris. This latest announcement is part of additional funding to the Access for All scheme.
What did the officials say?
Thameslink and Great Northern Managing Director Tom Moran said:
“More than 1.6 million people use Flitwick station every year and lifts to the platforms will make an enormous difference to everyone who struggles because they use wheelchairs, have baby buggies, heavy luggage or find walking difficult.
“That is why we have been supporting the campaign to fund lifts and a new footbridge. This is great news, particularly given the 150th anniversary of Flitwick station that we are celebrating this year. We will now work with Network Rail and our community stakeholders to help develop a scheme.”
Gavin Crook, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said:
“This is a vital project to improve accessibility at Flitwick station and we welcome the announcement that funding for this scheme has been secured.
“Once complete, the project will make using the station much easier for all passengers and open up travel opportunities for more people.
“Network Rail will continue to work closely with stakeholders to deliver this scheme which will bring significant benefits for all passengers who use Flitwick station.”
Arthur Taylor, chairman of Bedford Commuters’ Association, said:
“I am absolutely thrilled at this news. We have lobbied hard and been waiting for many years for this and were very disappointed when it did not make it through the last round of funding. This will be so much better for Flitwick passengers.”
Cllr James Jamieson, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, said:
“The Council has worked very closely with Govia Thameslink and Network Rail to secure the necessary funds to deliver full step-free access at Flitwick Station. Flitwick is an important gateway into our area, and it is essential that everyone wishing to travel here is able to do so via a fully accessible station.
“We look forward to continuing our work with Thameslink and Network Rail, in particular through developing proposals for transport interchanges at both Flitwick and Biggleswade, and delivering significant infrastructure improvements for our residents, visitors and workforce.”
Ian Cook, founder of the campaign group Step Free Access, said:
“We’re incredibly pleased at the success of our community’s campaign to have lifts and ramps installed at Flitwick station and look forward to being involved in the design stage to ensure that the needs of everyone with mobility problems are accommodated.
“Meanwhile we will not rest until we have a firm decision from the Government of the day and all parties involved, that all stations and all trains are fully step-free.”
Centre Parcs runs a courtesy guest shuttle bus between its holiday Village Woburn Forest and Flitwick train station. Chris Bland, Travel Co-ordinator, said:
“I am delighted that lifts are going to be installed at Flitwick. As well as improving access for our guests and staff, I anticipate the lifts will encourage more guests to travel by train.”
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