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Maidstone West misses out on step free access along with five more west Kent stations

By Luke May

Disabled rail passengers in west Kent have been wholly missed out of the latest round of station improvements.

Six stations, including Maidstone West, Marden and Headcorn, were all shortlisted to potentially get step free access.

However, all six have been left out of the latest plans by the Department for Transport.

Maidstone and The Weald MP Helen Grant said: "I am disappointed neither Marden nor Maidstone West were successful in securing funding for step free access on this occasion.

"I felt both had a strong case for inclusion in this round of funding, but sadly they faced stiff competition from other worthwhile bids across the country.

"This setback does not spell the end of our campaign.

"I continue to believe it is essential that both Maidstone West and Marden receive step free access to both platforms so everyone can more easily benefit from the train services available."

The six stations missing out are Headcorn, High Brooms, Hildenborough, Lenham, Maidstone West and Marden.

Each one was short-listed for a share of the government's £300 million Access for All fund, which brings disabled access to public transport.

"This setback does not spell the end of our campaign" - MP Helen Grant

According to the DfT, the 73 stations it chose nationally were picked on a range of criteria, including footfall weighted by disability in the area, value for money and factors such as proximity to a hospital.

The stations were also chosen to represent a fair geographical spread across the country.

Justin Ryan, Southeatern's accessibility manager, said: "While we appreciate not everyone’s local station has been successful in being awarded funds, factors such as the strength of local feedback and the location of stations in relation to other, step-free stations in the area were all taken into account.

"Working together in partnership with Network Rail, we’ll continue to do everything we can to make our stations as accessible as possible."

Mrs Grant added: "I understand that there is to be further funding available in the coming months and my constituents can rest assured that I will be putting my full weight behind any efforts to secure the required funding in the future."

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