A TARGET to make Britain's railway stations fully accessible by 2030 is set to be missed by 40 years, according to an analysis.

Disability charity Leonard Cheshire claimed all stations will not be step-free until 2070 if the current rate of enhancement work continues as it is.

It warned that inaccessible stations are stopping people such as wheelchair users from travelling by train.

The charity's findings come amid the continuing saga of Pokesdown railway station in Bournemouth.

Campaigners have been calling for work to be completed to improve accessibility at Pokesdown for the past nine years, as there is currently no alternative to 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, earlier this year, the firm announced that the project would not be completed until September 2020 at the earliest.

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

“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.”

However, now it has emerged that the entire lift shafts will need replacing.

Cllr Andy Jones, Boscombe East & Pokesdown ward representative on BCP Council, told the Daily Echo: "I'm looking to organise a meeting in the next few weeks with a number of campaigners to decide where to go from here, how we can best move things forward.

"There lots of questions and we are due some answers now.

"Having a station like Pokesdown which is inaccessible to certain groups in the community is totally unacceptable.

"Pokesdown railway station, and all other railway stations, are public buildings at the end of the day."

In July 2018, the Government published an inclusive transport strategy with a commitment to make services "fully accessible for all passengers by 2030".

But research by Leonard Cheshire found that step-free work is only being completed at 19 stations per year.

Out of the 2,579 stations in Britain, around 980 are not step-free.

Leonard Cheshire chief executive Neil Heslop said: "This is a timely reminder that our current rail network often excludes disabled people from making journeys others take for granted.

"As families look to enjoy the festive season together, accessibility issues will add unnecessary stress to disabled travellers who negotiate a substandard network every day.

"We call on Boris Johnson to prioritise the acceleration of Access for All, so disabled people can enjoy the life opportunities provided through modern, accessible rail travel."

"The Government's Access for All programme was launched in 2006 and has led to step-free access being introduced at more than 200 stations."