Dear Mr Cooper,
Thank you for your e-mail to the Secretary of State for Transport. I have been asked to reply as I sponsor the Department’s Access for All programme, which improves access to selected railway stations across the country.
We are aware of the lack of step free access at Norwood Junction and we have previously looked at adding lifts under Access for All. The programme was launched in 2006 and includes 195 stations that will receive an accessible route into the station and to and between each platform. Around 140 of these projects are now finished and more than 1,100 stations have received smaller scale access improvements such as accessible ticket counters, toilets and tactile warning strips to help those with a visual impairment.
Unfortunately, when Network Rail began detailed planning for lifts at Norwood Junction it became apparent that there were a number of issues that meant the project could not be delivered. The main concern was overcrowding and safety, given the constrained nature of the station layout. The station was therefore withdrawn from the programme.
However, I understand that TfL now plan to look at Norwood Junction again and will be looking at options with Network Rail and LOROL over the next few months. I cannot of course guarantee that a solution will be any more possible now than when it was previously looked at, but I hope it will reassure you that the issue is being taken seriously by the rail industry.
You also asked if there was any legislation that could enforce changes to Norwood Junction. The rail industry is subject to the Equality Act 2010. However, this does not necessarily require changes to infrastructure, only that operators make reasonable adjustments to allow access to their services. Ultimately this is for the courts to decide, but train operators will usually supply an accessible taxi for anyone unable to use a particular station. There are also EU and UK standards that need to be met if infrastructure is changed at a station. However, there is no requirement to make stations accessible, only that any part of the station being worked on meets current standards.
I realise that this will be a disappointing reply but I hope that it explains the position.
Access for All
Department for Transport