Mobility scooter train

A petition has been launched to increase access for disabled people and mobility scooter users at a Suffolk train station.

Almost 100 people have signed the petition so far to boost accessibility at Needham Market’s railway station. Many locals are disappointed that in 2015, £700,000 was spent to improve the station by Greater Anglia, however, the only access to the Ipswich-bound platform is via a steep underground stairway.

The petition states: “Despite significant ‘improvements’ to Needham Market Railway Station in recent years, access to the Ipswich-bound platform remains by a steep underground stairway only – a physical challenge for passengers with limited mobility, with buggies, bikes or heavy suitcases, and an impossibility for wheelchair users.

“Additionally, the new ramp from the car park to the Cambridge-bound platform is well above the maximum 1 in 12 gradients required to comply with Building Regulations, creating further significant problems for wheelchair users.”

The current access to the station also greatly affects mobility scooter users. According to a report by the East Anglian Daily Times, commuter Jen Overett, who helped to organise the petition, said: “As a regular train traveller fairly new to Needham Market, I’ve been concerned to see elderly people, passengers with buggies or young children and cyclists struggling to use the two sets of steep steps between the Ipswich-bound platform and the station entrance/exit, and for wheelchair users this platform is completely inaccessible.”

In response, a Greater Anglia spokeswoman said: “There is step-free access to the Norwich-bound platform at Needham Market station. Greater Anglia pays for London-bound disabled passengers to travel via taxi to Ipswich, where they can continue their journey. We care about our customers and want to make sure that everyone is able to complete their journey.”

Since the petition was launched, Greater Anglia’s accessibility manager has agreed to meet the campaigners to discuss the issue further. The town council is also backing the campaign to support the local wheelchair and mobility scooter users.

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