Passengers at Tilehurst, in Berkshire, could be set to benefit from lifts on all four platforms after Network Rail signalled their intent to develop plans for step-free access at the station.
The station, which serves more than half a million passengers a year, had a new footbridge installed as part of the £6billion modernisation of the Great Western Main Line in 2015.
Development work will now take place to find a viable solution to add new lifts at the station for the first time.
The development work would be funded by Network Rail from within existing budgets, with the plans being ready for a design and build contract in 2020.
It forms part of Network Rail’s multi-billion-pound Railway Upgrade Plan, which is the biggest investment in the railway since the Victorian era.
Welcoming the news, Alok Sharma, Member of Parliament for Reading West, said: “Having worked on this issue for some time, I am absolutely delighted we have made progress on improving accessibility at Tilehurst station. This issue matters to many local commuters and I am grateful to both the Rail Minister and Network Rail for making this excellent decision. I will continue to pursue this matter with vigour with Network Rail and the Department for Transport until we have actually delivered the lifts providing access for commuters to all four platforms.”
Accessibility Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “We are determined that all people should have equal access to our rail network, which is why it is fantastic to see work progressing at Tilehurst station.
“So far, we have provided step-free, accessible routes at more than 200 stations through our Access for All programme, and we have also recently announced a £20 million fund to see further improvements at railway stations across the country.”
Mike Gallop, Western route director at Network Rail, said: “Improving accessibility is a key priority as part our focus in putting passengers first. The number of people using Tilehurst station has doubled in the last 20 years and it is important that we unlock the railway network so more people can use it. Development work is beginning now, and we welcome the support from Alok Sharma MP and the minister.”
Joe Graham, business assurance director at Great Western Railway, said: “We really welcome this news to find a solution to increase accessibility at one of our key stations in the Thames Valley. We look forward to building upon our already strong alliance with Network Rail to help deliver improved accessibility for our passengers at Tilehurst.”