Mossley’s Victorian Train station is being dubbed “The Station of No Return” by frustrated disabled travellers and support groups.
The station has come in for criticism due to its lack of wheelchair access on one side of the two platforms.
Currently there is a sloping ramp from the car park onto the Manchester bound platform, but on the platform opposite wheelchair users and parents with buggies or prams have to negotiate a footbridge with 21 steps up and 21 steps down.
This means that wheelchair users can easily make the journey to central Manchester and stations in between, but then they would have to alight at the station before or after and book a cab or get a minibus to get to their next destination.
Even the station operators themselves Northern Rail warn that the station is not suitable for disabled travellers, stating on their information website: “This station is not recommended for the severely mobility impaired due to the low height on platform 3 causing a high step onto the train” though there is no mention of a lack of ramp access on the Huddersfield bound platform.
Sharon Hooley, 43, who is an Independent Disabled Activist and uses a wheelchair herself said: “I’ve been a powered wheelchair user for the last seven years and I can definitely say that transport is the most important aspect in every disabled person’s life.
“However, to be able to use those services can be an absolute nightmare.
“Train stations like Victoria and Piccadilly have services in place for disabled travellers, but smaller stations are being left out, Mossley Train Station is one of them.
“The majority of stations around Manchester are Victorian and I know that the National Rail company has been putting money into very difficult restructures to include access when they are upgrading stations. But this is a very slow process.
“When I’ve had to get a train I always pre book so that they can order a mini cab because the station I need to get to isn’t accessible and I have to stop off at the next station before my original station to get this taxi . Yes, it is free as they say it isn’t my fault that I can’t get to my preferred destination, but this is so time consuming and very costly.”
A spokesperson for Northern Rail said: “We are committed to making the upgrades, but it is too early to say which ones we invest in and which not in the short term, but all reasonable steps will be taken.”
Northern Rail took over the franchise in April 2016 and with over 500 stations (many of them dating from the Victorian and Edwardian period) it is understood full access modernisation is very difficult.
To bring each and every station up to ‘spec’ may take years.
The spokesperson added: “We are also fully aware that there are issues with trains and we will be introducing 281 new carriages and removing the old Pacers rolling stock with this. We are looking at 2018 for the introduction of more modern rolling stock, which can better accommodate those people travelling with wheelchairs. As far as stations are concerned we have to submit planning applications to which we have to take into consideration objections.”
So realistically there will be no quick fix for disabled travellers – which is no comfort to the disabled community especially those that have to rely on public transport to get into work which successive governments are encouraging.
Sharon added: “Train stations like Mossley need that upgrade, and quickly. It’s no use trying to get to or from work, as a disabled worker, if you can only use it one way.
“Buses to Mossley, though frequent, are not ideal. Being disabled means every trip has to be well thought out to accommodate medication, toilet trips and limited power of your powered wheelchair. If anything breaks down or is delayed it’s frustrating and sometimes can even cause panic attacks. The safety of that person is compromised.
“In my opinion, Mossley is very much a popular station so why has it not been upgraded? Access is needed on both sides of the platform, not just one.
“If the Government want more disabled people to gain work then access to ALL transport is an absolute necessity.”
Mossley station is not unique in not having disabled access, but is one of the few where an exit must be accessed through on one side only.
It also is one of the busier suburban stations serving a community which being so far out of the regional economic centre, (Manchester) relies more than others, on public transport to take them to into Manchester to work shop and play.
As Sharon states, Mossley train station is not alone in requiring modernisation for disabled access, but is one of the more extreme examples of a Victorian station in need of modernisation.
If you know of a particular station that has no wheelchair access in the Tameside area, then we would like to know about it.