FRUSTRATED residents, campaigners and councillors in west Reading are calling for improved disabled access at Reading stations.

Kentwood ward councillor Daya Pal Singh set up a petition to install a lift for disabled users at Tilehurst Station, while Battle councillors are hoping for similar change at Reading West Station.

Alok Sharma, Reading West MP, is meeting Network Rail this week to discuss the issue.

He said: “I have raised the issue of lift access to platforms at Tilehurst, and other local stations, with the Department of Transport at ministerial level as well as with Network Rail and First Great Western.

“I am therefore pleased that the Department for Transport has announced a £300 million fund to extend the Access for All programme.”

The Government extended Access for All funding, which aims to make railway stations more accessible, in July 2018.

Network Rail and local train operating companies, will nominate stations for the new funding.

Cllr Singh launched the petition a month ago, calling on Network Rail to install a lift for wheelchair users at Tilehurst station, which has received 800 signatures.

Currently wheelchair users need to use Reading Station, which is around four miles away.

Residents have called the situation ‘shocking’ and described their experiences attempting to use the station.

Alice Carter said: “My daughter is a wheelchair user and she is getting older so we can’t carry her over the footbridge much longer.

“It’s shocking in this day and age that the railways are still so inaccessible.”

The petition has also been backed by several Labour councillors, including Rachel Eden, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Reading West.

Reading West station also lacks step free access. Battle ward councillor Christopher Maskell said he is talking to Network Rail and GWR to see if the station can be upgraded.

He said: “Reading West station is inaccessible to people in wheelchairs and very difficult for mothers with pushchairs.

“It is one of the least accessible stations in Reading and the wider area. For the 21st century it provides a bad experience.

“Network Rail’s response would be that Reading Station is accessible but that involves using buses or taxis.

“Discussion with Network Rail and GWR are very slow at the moment.”

A spokesman for GWR added: “Last year less-abled customers made almost six million journeys with GWR and 80 per cent of them did so spontaneously without booking assistance in advance.

“We recognise that the GWR railway network does include some stations that are not yet fully accessible, and we have been working hard with the DfT and Network Rail to make improvements and invest in the railway. Where a station is not accessible we will take passengers to the nearest accessible station and provide alternative transport to deliver them to their destination. In reality such incidents are rare.”

The petion can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/glenn-dennis-we-need-a-lift-at-tilehurst-station-for-wheelchair-users-907a4057-d80e-45a7-9a81-981f99bf535f