Alok Sharma, Reading West MP, and Roger York, Chairman of Theale’s Future which is a sub-committee of Theale Parish Council, have welcomed Rail Minister Norman Baker’s announcement on Tuesday 6th December that Theale railway station will benefit from investment of £1.25 million to provide a new footbridge and three lifts, which will make Theale station more easily accessible. Theale’s Future has been campaigning for improved access to Theale station and Alok has previously raised the matter with First Great Western, which operates the station.
The Government funding is being provided as part of the Department for Transport's (DfT) Access for All scheme which is a key part of the Government's strategy to improve the accessibility of Great Britain's railway stations. This funding is specifically targeted at providing infrastructure improvements at stations which will enable more disabled people to access the rail network.
First Great Western (FGW), which made the funding bid to the DfT’s Access for All scheme, will be working with Network Rail and the DfT to install the new footbridge and lifts. FGW is now working on the timescales for implementation of the project.
Alok said: “I welcome the Government’s £1.25 million investment which is excellent news for my constituents in Theale who travel by rail. For many people, whether they are elderly, disabled or parents with prams, getting from the station entrance and on to the train can be the hardest part of their trip, and the improvements at Theale station will help make journeys easier.”
Roger York, Chairman of Theale’s Future, said: “Theale's Future and the community of Theale are extremely pleased with this news. Access has long been a problem for mothers with buggies and impossible for wheelchair users. We owe special thanks to Andy Button of Theale's Future for his leadership in pursuing this and to Alok Sharma for promoting our cause.”
David Wood, Chairman of Theale Parish Council, said: “I am absolutely delighted with this fantastic news. It shows that we can make a difference. This will not only help the disabled but also young mums with pushchairs, passengers with luggage, and cyclists who need to take their bikes on a train. I have struggled many times on the existing stairs which are really quite dangerous.”