A £1m investment has just been signed off by Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, to significantly improve disability access at Billingham railway station.
The station is the only regularly served station in the North East whose platforms are not accessible for passengers with mobility issues.
At the moment, between the car park and the drop-off point, access onto platforms 1 and 2 is only available through a stepped footbridge.
Councillor Mike Smith, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said “Billingham station is the only railway station in the Tees Valley with no disabled access."
“Billingham station is the only railway station in the Tees Valley with no disabled access."
He added, "for a long time, we’ve thought this was just unacceptable and that’s why in recent years we’ve been working hard to bring this scheme to fruition and make sure that wheelchair users and those with pushchairs and prams can access the public transport they need for work, leisure and to visit friends and family.”
The investment is set to replace the current pedestrian footbridge, with a new one served by lifts, consequently making it step-free and suitable for wheelchair users. A series of car park and access route improvements are also due to take place.
Mayor Houchen, said “the station is a vital lifeline for many people in the surrounding area, connecting them with Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and the wider North East but for too long has been inaccessible to many.”
He continued, “this funding will allow us to install new lifts and improve access points to make sure no one is being left behind and make the station a real option for people like wheelchair users. This is just the latest in a long list of station improvements right across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool that we’re helping to drive forward.”
The Mayor added, “these include a £22.5million investment in Middlesbrough station to get it ready for London services in just a few short months, to the complete transformation of Darlington station to give everyone here the fast, reliable and accessible transport links they deserve.”
The £3.59m project is being carried out by Network Rail, who is contributing £1.39m to the plans, on top of £1m funding from the Department for Transport’s Access For All fund, and £200,000 from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.
Work will kickstart in March 2022 and should be completed by November, with design work for the new facilities ongoing.
Matt Rice, Route Director for Network Rail’s North and East route, said “I’m really pleased this eagerly anticipated and much needed project to improve accessibility at Billingham is now ready to be delivered.”
He concluded, “we’re delighted to be contributing towards the funding of the footbridge alongside our partners in both central and local government and will continue to support the aspirations of Mayor Houchen and other railway stakeholders as we work together to keep improving the railway for existing and future passengers in the Tees Valley.”