EFFORTS to have long-awaited lifts installed at Pokesdown Station have faced a further setback after a warning that funding for the project could be lost.

South Western Railway (SWR), which is responsible for improving access at the station, has said £1.6 million it has allocated may not carry over after the end of its emergency agreement in March.

The news has prompted concern from campaigners who have urged BCP Council to press for the work to be completed.

As part of its contract, SWR is responsible for making the station accessible by installing new lifts following a decade-long campaign to improve access.

But at a meeting at the end of last year, the firm suggested the £1.6 million it has allocated for the work could be lost if not spent before the end of its emergency measures agreement.

The issue was raised by Ben Smith of the Pokesdown Station Campaign at the meeting of BCP Council on Tuesday.

He called on councillors to take action to ensure the project would not be shelved after “years of inaction”.

Cabinet member for transport councillor Mike Greene, who had been involved in work by the now-abolished Bournemouth council to urge the installation of lifts, said he was pressing the Department for Transport to have access improved.

“Both in my time as the responsible portfolio holder at Bournemouth council, and in my short time holding that role within BCP Council, I have urged SWR to honour the commitment they made,” he said.

“It was their responsibility to provide the lifts by 2019 and, in my opinion, it is quite disgraceful that they won the franchise on that basis but have tried repeatedly to walk away from it.”

He said the obligation should continue to whoever takes over running the station following the end of the emergency measures agreement.

Cllr Greene added that “discussions” were continuing with the Department for Transport.

A spokesman for SWR said: “It has regrettably become clear that it will not be possible to deliver new lifts at Pokesdown station within the £1.6 million budget that we earmarked for this project.

"However, we continue to work closely with local partners to explore whether any additional funding is available to help cover the cost of this upgrade.”