Access improvements at 73 railway stations

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Access is to be improved at 73 rail stations in Britain as part of a £300m investment, the government says.

Lifts and adjustable ticket counters will be among the new measures brought in over the next five years.

The changes, part of an "inclusive transport strategy", will help disabled passengers as well as those travelling with children or luggage.

Liverpool Central and Luton in England, Barry Town in Wales, and Dumfries in Scotland are among the stations chosen.

The Department for Transport says the sites were selected based on criteria which included their usage, level of local disability and value for money of the work.

Transport accessibility minister Nusrat Ghani said: "Transport is vital for connecting people with work, friends and family, but also to enable them to enjoy visiting some of the wonderful cultural, historical and natural sites across the UK.

"We want the 13.9 million disabled people in Britain to be empowered to travel independently."

Since the Access for All programme was launched in 2006 accessible routes have been introduced at more than 200 stations.

A further 1,500 stations have had smaller individual upgrades including accessible toilets and improvements to help those with a visual or hearing impairment.

'Frustrating and deflating'

Chloe Ball-Hopkins, Team GB Paralympian and freelance reporter, wrote about the difficulty of getting around the UK's rail stations last year.

"Using the train is supposed to be an easy and relaxed way to get about but instead it ends up being frustrating and deflating.

"I know some stations that are older buildings struggle with putting things like ramps and lifts in place, but that doesn't give them an excuse not to try and find a way to cater for everyone.

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"Whether that's someone like myself who can't use the ramp they have put in place because it's too steep, or a blind person who has to try and manage flights of steps that they can't see.

"The staff at the stations can be the friendliest people going but it doesn't resolve the situation if someone in a wheelchair is sat at the top or bottom of the steps with a train to catch in a matter of minutes."

However, the disability charity Leonard Cheshire says that its research shows disabled people cannot use 40% of railway stations in the UK because of a lack of step-free access.

Chief executive Neil Heslop said that while disabled people will welcome these improvements, "inaccessible public transport will continue to force many to miss out on everyday events which others take for granted, from employment opportunities to simply spending time with family and friends".

The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, which works with the government on accessibility issues, said that there must also be "clear and practical information" about the improvements so that disabled people know what additional transport options are available.

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