Cumbria

Rory Stewart's disabled passenger station access call

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Media captionPenrith has no lifts and the northbound platform can only be reached by steep stairs

An MP has called for "urgent action" to make railway stations fully accessible to disabled people.

Rory Stewart said that at some stations in his Cumbrian constituency passengers in wheelchairs have to be pushed across the West Coast Mainline.

The Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border described the situation as "unacceptable".

The Department for Transport said it was spending £100m nationally on improving access.

At Penrith Station there is step-free access to southbound trains, but northbound ones use the opposite platform, which can only be reached via two flights of stairs.

Passengers in wheelchairs have to be pushed across the tracks, waiting for permission to cross between high-speed trains.

Ten other stations across Cumbria, including Workington and Ulverston, also operate so-called "barrow crossings".

'Left behind'

Elaine Waite, from Appleby, has arthritis and uses a mobility scooter, which is not allowed across the tracks.

So, although she can travel south from Penrith, she has to return to Carlisle, adding 20 miles to the journey.

Image caption Rory Stewart said it was "incredibly inconvenient"

"People without disabilities don't realise how hard it is," she said.

"It makes you feel you should be able to cope. And you can't cope.

"They're just leaving you behind really."

Mr Stewart said: "It's incredibly inconvenient.

"We are a place that has a population that's getting older, we have a large number of disabled people, and we have huge number of tourists coming up to the Lake District with heavy bags,

"For all of them it's a nightmare."

Penrith is the only station on the West Coast Mainline to be nominated for the Department for Transport funding, and a decision will be made in April.

See more on this story on Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria, Sunday 24 November, BBC One, 11:00 GMT.

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