Wimbledon Park Tube is now the 86th tube station to have become step-free, following the installation of a brand-new lift, TfL has announced.
It joins Wimbledon on the District line and Morden on the Northern line as being step-free stations in Merton. Nearby Southfields, on the District line, is also step-free, alongside Ickenham and Debden, which became step-free earlier this year.
Also on the list is Whitechapel station which became step-free this week following the opening of the new ticket hall on Whitechapel Road, after it was handed over from Crossrail to London Underground as part of the work ahead of the opening of the Elizabeth line.
Journeys from the borough to central London will now be more accessible, alongside providing better accessibility for people who want to visit Wimbledon Park.
Martin Whelton, Merton Council cabinet member for Housing, Regeneration, and the Climate Emergency, said “we welcome these improvements to one of Merton's busy underground stations that will make travel more accessible.”
He continued, “as we recover from COVID making the most of Merton's outstanding public transport links will be vital in helping our local economy and reducing congestion on our roads.”
Outlined in the government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy summary of progress report, 2019/2020, there are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK, all of which need easy access to travel for numerous reasons, with choice and dignity, without extra costs.
Additionally, it is estimated that by 2050, 1 in 4 people in the UK will be aged 65 years or over, and as people age, they become more susceptible to developing an array of conditions such as mobility impairments, and memory, visual or hearing loss.
Society is also starting to recognise that many people have invisible disabilities – an impairment that is not visible – and that mental health conditions and cognitive impairments cause complex and similar challenges to physical conditions.
It is crucial to bear in mind that regardless of the challenges one might face, everyone has the right to access services that most of the population takes for granted, easily and comfortably, and feel that they are not being judged or forgotten about.
Esther Sharples, London Underground's Director of Asset Performance and Capital Delivery, said “Wimbledon Park station becoming step-free is another important move to making the network as accessible as possible.”
The new lift at Wimbledon Park Tube will assist those with mobility needs, making the station easier to navigate, and the journey more comfortable, whilst also benefiting those with children in prams and heavy luggage.
The Director added, “improving accessibility across London is vital, and we will continue the important work to make as many stations as possible step-free.”
Osterley, Harrow-on-the-Hill, and Sudbury Hill are also all on their way to becoming step-free before the end of the year, as work continues to achieve this goal.