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Herne Bay station in line for step-free access funds

Wheelchair users say they “could travel like anyone else” if Herne Bay railway station is given government funding to install step-free access.

Southeastern has nominated the town’s station and 21 others – including Aylesham and Deal – to be considered for the grants following a public survey.

Sheila Appleton, who has been using a wheelchair for eight years, is excited by the prospect of Herne Bay being chosen.

Commuters Jacky Woods, Louise Lavell, Layla Parson, Craig Foster and Sheila Appleton outside Herne Bay station
Commuters Jacky Woods, Louise Lavell, Layla Parson, Craig Foster and Sheila Appleton outside Herne Bay station

“It would mean I could travel like anyone else,” she said.

“It would just be so easy for me to travel from Herne Bay. It’s an encouraging step.”

Currently, the only way to cross the tracks at Herne Bay is through an underpass accessed by steps.

It means disabled passengers are forced to take the train from Whitstable to travel to London.

Southeastern runs a travel assistance scheme that provides taxis to the nearest accessible station, as well as help at the station.

But Ms Appleton says it can often be a “hassle” and that booking confusions have disrupted journeys in the past.

Herne Bay rail station
Herne Bay rail station

“Getting the funding would cut out that hassle,” she said.

“It would mean I could go to Herne Bay railway station with confidence that I would get on the train I’m booked on. I wouldn’t have to rely on other people picking me up at the right time.”

The Department for Transport will consider the nominations from Southeastern, and other operators across the country, before deciding which stations will get funding in April.

Southeastern’s Accessibility Manager, Justin Ryan, said: “Factors such as the strength of local feedback and the location of stations in relation to other, step-free stations in the area have all been considered.

“Ultimately, because it involves spending public money, it is government that makes the final decision based in part on Southeastern and Network Rail’s recommendations and we will find out what the Department for Transport has decided in due course.”

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