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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 April, 2004, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Wheelchair rail access criticised
Len Staples at High Brooms station
Len Staples says he needs friends to carry him down the stairs
A disabled man has said he cannot use his local railway station unless he has friends with him to carry him out of the station in his wheelchair.

Len Staples must negotiate four sets of stairs to get from the train to the road outside High Brooms station in Kent.

His MP Archie Norman raised the issue in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

South Eastern Trains said the problem existed because many of its stations were built decades ago.

You can't do it unless you've got physically, able-bodied people to lift you
Len Staples

Mr Staples, who has lived in the High Brooms area of Tunbridge Wells for six years, said he would use the station to catch trains to and from London if it was accessible.

He said: "I can't get off here because there's no way of getting over there onto the public highway.

"In order to do so I have to mount two sets of stairs, go under the railway track and come up the other two sets of stairs on the opposite side.

"You can't do it unless you've got physically, able-bodied people to lift you."

'Completely non-compliant'

Archie Norman, the Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells, raised the issue in the Commons on Wednesday.

Mr Norman said: "All across the country many stations, including my own in Tunbridge Wells, remain completely non-compliant.

"No resources have been forthcoming and neither Network Rail nor the train operating companies will take responsibility.

"Does he (Transport Minister Kim Howells) think it's acceptable that, in this day and age, disabled people have to make an appointment to be carried up stairs or through tunnels just to catch a train?"

South Eastern Trains, which manages High Brooms station, said in a statement: "The majority of our stations were built decades ago at times when access may not have been a consideration.

"So many of our stations and platforms are not wholly accessible for people with disabilities."

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30 Mar 04  |  Nottinghamshire
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20 Feb 04  |  Business


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