"With Network Rail, London Midland Trains, and the Department of Transport all making excuses about not upgrading Lichfield Trent Valley railway station, I am taking a further step" announces Michael Fabricant.
"The latest wheeze announced by the Government is the appointment of two ‘Stations Champions’ or ‘Tsars’ by the Department of Transport. I am unconvinced they will make any difference and that this is but Gordon Brown window dressing. Nevertheless, I have written today in good faith to Lord Andrew Adonis, the Minister of State at the Department of Transport inviting one of the Stations’ Champions to visit me in Lichfield where I will show him the lamentable facilities at Lichfield Trent Valley station. In my letter to Lord Adonis, I said: ‘It would be useful if the Stations’ Champion could see at first hand the lack of facilities at the station with two of the three platforms inaccessible to disabled passengers’.
"With an hourly service available down to our nation’s capital, it is a disgrace that disabled people are unable, and those with luggage or young children have to struggle, to reach the train. This is all in stark contrast to the promises the Labour Government made to help the disabled back in 1997."
The Department of Transport issued the following statement yesterday:-
Champions to oversee station improvements
Passengers’ requirements at stations across England and Wales are to be reviewed by two ‘Stations’ Champions’ who have been asked by the Government to suggest ways to improve facilities.
Transport Minister Andrew Adonis, who has just returned from a six-day rail tour of Britain, has asked Sir Peter Hall, President of the Town and Country Planning Association, and Chris Green, a non-executive director of Network Rail and a former Chief Executive of Virgin Trains, to advise the Government on improving stations.
Announcing the station review in a speech to the Railway Forum today, Andrew Adonis said:
"My tour gave me a real insight into the state of the network, which is good overall. It was clear however that the quality of stations is extremely variable and at many major stations the service level is often downright poor.
"I experienced stations where toilet facilities were closed or uncleaned, where there was a lack of refreshments or adequate bicycle or car parking facilities. There was great variability in the quality of bus interchanges, together with the unavailability of local transport information and even basic local street maps.
"To address this issue I have asked Sir Peter Hall and Chris Green to look at how we can get the basics right as well as to consider the broader role of stations in the future."
Commenting on the initiative, Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said:
"Train companies have already done a good deal to improve stations, and this has been reflected in steadily improving satisfaction scores in the Passenger Focus National Passenger Survey over the past five years. But train companies are keen to move faster and we have been calling for quicker procedures to approve projects. We very much look forward to this Ministerial initiative giving a boost to such ideas and enabling operators to deliver the passenger improvements we want to make more quickly."
The champions will advise on the minimum levels of service that should be set at stations – ensuring they are appropriate to the stations’ passenger flows – so passengers can be confident that stations will meet set standards.
They will also provide advice on how other changes such as ‘quick wins’, better station management, future franchise agreements, Network Rail initiatives, and longer term investment can be brought about in a way that that delivers better stations.
Government initiatives to improve stations include Access for All, in which £370 million has been committed towards improving facilities for disabled passengers, and the National Stations Improvement Plan, which aims to upgrade approximately 150 stations with £150 million of funding.
The Department for Transport also sponsors the Secure Stations Scheme which includes a national accreditation scheme recognising measures to improve station security and provide reassurance to passengers and staff. This new initiative will be a way of bringing all stations up to a similar standard.