CONTRACTORS are expected to finally gain access to disused shafts at Pokesdown station to investigate the feasibility of installing new lifts.

Campaigners have been calling for work to be completed to improve accessibility with there being no alternative to its stairs.

As part of the franchise agreement for South Western Railway (SWR) to run the area’s network, it was required to have new lifts installed by December 31, 2019.

However, last month, the firm announced that the project would not be completed until September 2020 at the earliest.

It said it had been aware of the delay “for several months” before making the announcement.

Councillor Andy Jones, who has spearheaded the campaign for new lifts, said he was “absolutely disgusted” and accused the company of not taking the issue seriously.

The announcement was made by SWR’s head of station property at a meeting of the BCP Council scrutiny board.

Alistair Wright, whose attendance had been requested by board chairman Cllr Philip Broadhead, said work to assess the existing lift shafts had been “long and torturous”.

In a statement, the firm said it was “very sorry” for the delay to the project.

“We have been trying to establish a safe method of working to assess the condition of the disused lift shafts,” it said.

“We are working closely with our partners to ensure the project moves on as quickly as possible, however safety had to be our number one priority.”

In an email received by Cllr Jones last week, SWR said it expected contractors would finally be able to gain access to the lift shafts this month.

It said that once this had been managed, they would be able to properly study their condition, allowing it to work out a way to safely install new lifts.

Cllr Jones said a public meeting to discuss the latest on the project had been scheduled for September 25, although SWR had yet to confirm its attendance.