South West Wales

Port Talbot rail station upgrade 'long overdue'

Artist's impression of new station
Image caption Plans include a new enclosed footbridge with lifts providing access to the platform, a new ticket office, waiting areas, cafe and retail area.

Plans are being drawn-up for a multi-million pound upgrade of Port Talbot Parkway railway station.

It was named last year in a report criticising stations in Wales not fully accessible to disabled people.

Campaigners say at the moment they have to give 24 hours notice so arrangements can be made for them to reach the central platform.

The design proposals are going on public exhibition with rail users being urged to comment on the plans.

Neath Port Talbot council, Arriva Trains Wales and Network Rail will submit a bid to the Welsh Assembly Government's station improvement programme for European funding.

Disabled access campaigner Cliff Croft, aged 88, said an upgrade at the station was "long overdue."

He said since it was redesigned in the 1960s with an island platform then people who could not climb the footbridge had difficulties.

He said disabled passengers needed to give 24 hours notice they were using the station so arrangements could be made for them to cross the tracks.

Image caption Campaigners say the island platform has caused problems for disabled passengers since the 1960s

"We've written quite a few letters from different groups over the last 40 years," he added.

"The plans we have been shown would be very good."

Plans include a new enclosed footbridge with lifts providing step free access to the platform.

There will be a new ticket office and waiting areas as well as a cafe and retail area, new toilets and improvements to customer information and CCTV.

The development includes a 200-space car park with a park and ride for commuters along with improved facilities for cyclists, bus passengers and taxis.

The design proposals are going on show at the station on Tuesday morning, in the Aberavon Shopping Centre in the afternoon and in the civic centre in Port Talbot for the next few weeks.

Work is expected to start in spring 2012 and will take around 18 months to complete.

Council leader Ali Thomas said: "Improvements at Port Talbot Parkway are long overdue, particularly in respect of disabled rail users.

"Now I am pleased to see that passengers and visitors will benefit from a modern and integrated railway system that reflects the heritage and aspirations of the town."

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