TRANSPORT Minister Stephen Hammond has agreed to visit Pokesdown Railway Station and speak to campaigners who want working lifts installed.
He was invited by Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood, who has joined forces with Pokesdown Community Forum to call on South West Trains to improve access to the station which had 312,000 users in 2011-12.
Mr Ellwood said he hoped the minister’s support would be a major boost to the campaign, which seeks to persuade South West Trains to recommend the station for improvement as part of the government’s Access for All scheme.
“I was disappointed with the initial ministerial response that it was ‘up to South West Trains’ to recommend the station, and the company then said it wasn’t their responsibility,” he said.
“But the minister accepted my invitation to visit Bournemouth and take a look at the situation first hand. Hopefully this will put more energy behind securing funding to repair the lifts so badly needed by the community.”
Currently the station, which according to Pokesdown Community Forum is the second busiest in the wider area, is only accessible via 42 steps from road level.
There have been no working lifts for around 30 years.
Last month the forum, supported by Bournemouth Chamber of Commerce, Southbourne Business Association and Pokesdown Children’s Centre, launched an online petition, which has been signed by more than 1,100 people.
Mr Ellwood plans to present the petition to the Secretary of State for Transport in the House of Commons.
Forum secretary Andy Jones said: “We are very pleased to hear about the minister’s visit.
“We have really been making progress in recent weeks, with Tobias fighting our corner in parliament, but there is still quite a way to go.”
To sign the petition visit change.org/en-GB/ petitions/south-west-trains-network-rail-make-pokesdown-station-accessible.
DURING the visit, Mr Ellwood also plans to show the minister the junction of the A338 Wessex Way and Kings Park Drive.
He said the one-way junction was popular with visitors to AFC Bournemouth at the Goldsands Stadium, but resulted in heavy traffic locally as vehicles leaving the area were forced through Boscombe town centre.
“People go through there to get to the football and can’t get back out, and it is a nightmare during rush hour,” said Mr Ellwood.
“It should be a fairly simple thing to sort out, although it would probably cost about £500,000.”