Campaigners hand petition to rail bosses over disabled access at Marks Tey station
A petition signed by 540 people calling for lifts to be installed at a north Essex railway station has been handed to rail bosses.
Passengers travelling from Sudbury to the capital have to change trains at Marks Tey station via a footbridge which has been criticised because it is difficult for people with disabilities, families with children or commuters carrying heavy luggage to access.
Sudbury businessman Theo Bird launched a campaign on the 38 Degrees website with an online petition asking for improvements at Marks Tey. He said his aim was to ensure that footbridge access was the “top priority for future Sudbury branch line investment”.
The campaign has the support of Essex and Suffolk county councils, Witham MP Priti Patel and the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership. They have included calls for the improvements in their recommendations to Network Rail’s Anglia Route Study Consultation.
South Suffolk Labour candidate Jane Basham is also backing the campaign. She said the cost of improved access would be offset by economic benefit to the branch line.
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She added: “At present, for many elderly people, those less mobile and wheelchair users, there might as well be a barrier at Sudbury station preventing them using the railways - that’s how big an obstacle the footbridge at Marks Tey truly is.
“It’s disappointing, considering it is 20 years since the Disability Discrimination Act first became statutory law.”
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Yesterday, former mayoress of Sudbury Elaine Richmond, who uses a wheelchair, presented the petition to Network Rail. She said: “On behalf of all petitioners, please may we have a bridge with lifts at Marks Tey as soon as is practicable.”
The petition was officially received by Owen Johns, communications manager for Network Rail. He said: “We have a Victorian railway which was not designed with modern needs in mind and we recognise that it can be difficult for people with reduced mobility, or even pushchairs and heavy luggage to cross between platforms.
“While the final decision does not rest with us, the campaigners who have set this up have done a grand job and it’s fantastic that they want to improve their local station.”
The petition will remain open until the beginning of March at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/lift