The lifts at Bedford Train Station are now out of action for two months, and the message from Network Rail for commuters unable to use the walkway to platforms 2 to 4, get a taxi.
Ben Foley of the Bedford Rail Campaigners is a regular commuter into London and a wheelchair user. He has told Bedford Independent that this is just another addition to the long list of frustrations facing the station, which include reduced timetables for commuters and lack of investment in a station that is no-longer fit for a town.
He said: “Bedford has been left to stagnate with an ever deteriorating station.” In a statement Network Rail said that disabled passengers would have to use free taxis to and from Bedford and Wellingborough for the north or Luton Airport Parkway for the south, while lifts are out of action.
But, Ben Foley says adding a taxi to and from Luton will add an hour each way onto his daily commute. He says this is not offering the seamless journey promised to disabled commuters. He believes Network Rail should be able to ensure that any train carrying a disabled passenger can pull into Platform 1.
Even if that means a reduced service the journey time would be far quicker. Mohammad Yasin MP added: “Bedford rail users are once again being treated shabbily. I’m talking to Network Rail and the Department for Transport to urge them to find a more acceptable solution.”
In a statement, Network Rail said that the lift works are essential and that they know that there is never an ideal time to carry out this type of upgrade and do appreciate the impact that this will have on passengers.
They also added that both Govia Thameslink Railway and East Midlands Trains will be doing their best to help passengers with pushchairs and luggage during the work, but passengers who cannot negotiate the stairs will need to travel via the next nearest accessible station.
Passengers are therefore urged to organise assistance through contacting their train operator in advance of travelling.
A spokesperson for Network Rail added: “Due to the sheer number of trains which call at Bedford station it’s not possible for all of them to stop at platform 1, it’s due to timetabling restraints and trains coming/going to certain destinations and which platforms allow them to do that.”