Plans for a major project which aims to improve accessibility for passengers at Thirsk station are continuing to make progress.
As part of the Department for Transport’s Mid-Tier Access for All Fund, the station was granted £1m in government funding in 2020.
Since then, Network Rail has liaised with North Yorkshire County Council and TransPennine Express to develop detailed proposals for the initiative.
Network Rail, North Yorkshire County Council and Trans Pennine Express are all involved in the project.
Kieran Dunkin, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said “we know how important this scheme to improve accessibility at Thirsk is for passengers. We’ve been working collaboratively with North Yorkshire County Council and TransPennine Express on the design of these improvements, which will include installing lifts at the station.”
Alongside the installation of lifts, plans include a new footbridge which will provide step-free access throughout the station, including to both island platforms.
The sponsor continued, “we’re now supporting the County Council on their work to prepare a funding bid to deliver the project in full. To inform the submission, we’ll be getting feedback from local stakeholders to identify the option which will work best for passengers.”
According to the Department for Transport’s Disability and Accessibility statistics paper ‘in 2019, disabled adults aged 16+ in England made on average 26% fewer trips and travelled 41% fewer miles than non-disabled adults.’
North Yorkshire County Councillor, Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said “the step-free access to the platforms will be a very significant improvement for all passengers and will provide further encouragement for our residents to use public transport.”
Now, plenty of work is underway within the industry in the hopes of making stations as easy as possible to navigate for the population who identify has having some type of disability, and the elderly.
The implementation of AR and VR technologies alongside the development of step free access across many of the UK’s stations, are just some of the steps being taken to achieve an integrated, and inclusive, transport network.
The County Councillor added, “we anticipate that there will be a further opportunity to bid for government funding as part of its levelling up agenda and if or when that funding window opens, we will be ready with a bid.”
He continued, “officers are working closely with district and borough council colleagues on a wider transport bid covering a number of stations, including Malton/Norton and Seamer rail stations.”
Network Rail is working diligently with local stakeholders to offer more information on the plans, with feedback set to develop the final design stages. Once funding is secured, the renovation will be able to swiftly move into the construction stage.
Making stations more accessible makes it easier for people to visit family and friends or travel to shops and work. Whether it be people with health conditions or impairments, parents, heavy luggage or shopping, accessibility benefits everyone.
It also supports the economy, and results in fewer car journeys, consequently minimising congestion, and carbon emissions.
Adam Fairclough, Head of Customer Experience Improvement for TransPennine Express, said “accessibility for all our customers is key to us as a train operator and we’re delighted to support the County Council in their preparation of a funding bid to make these plans a reality.”