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£64 million cost of abandoned Step Free tube

A report in the Standard yesterday detailed the cost of abandoned accessible transport projects on London Underground.

TfL released the information to the Standard in response to a Freedom of Information request.

After hearing that construction workers had been ordered to start filling in the Newbury Park new lift shaft at Newbury Park, Transport for All wrote to London Underground in December last 2009 to find out what had happened to the step free access programme.

The response we got was as follows:
Regarding Newbury Park Station: “The article does make the situation out to be worse than it is- the ‘filling in of the lift shafts’ is not accurate. The team was on site undertaking ‘enabling works’ so the lift shafts hadn’t been constructed .The station site is being ‘made good’ and the enabling works which had taken place will as far as possible ensure future SFA routes can be preserved.”

Regarding the Step Free Access Programme: “The status of the Undergrounds step-free plans is very disappointing to us- after years of planning and development work, the current economic downturn has resulted in some bitterly tough decisions.”

“Stations that are still being provided are:
King’s Cross St Pancras- current step-free to all lines except Northern, which is due by summer 2010, Southfields- Autumn 2010, Kingsbury- Autumn 2010, Hainault- Summer 2010, Farringdon- 2011/12, Blackfriars- 2011, Green Park- 2012”

Unsurprisingly, what they didn’t tell us was the total cost of these abandoned projects. The Standard reported that more than £64 million has been wasted by TfL on collapsed Step-Free projects.

“More than £39 million at Shepherd’s Bush station alone, including £4.4 million on designs for new lifts and £22 million to contractor Morgan Est, which got as far as building two lift shafts and moving gas and water pipes. Only at that stage was it realised that the project was going to be more technically difficult than initially thought. TfL decided to pull the plug last October.

Less-advanced work was halted at six other stations in September last year, because TfL realised it did not have the funds to complete it. They are: West Kensington, where £5.05 million had been spent; Ladbroke Grove (£3.06 million); Amersham (£4.6 million); Greenford (£3.9 million); Newbury Park (£4.6 million), and Osterley (just under £4 million).

The scheme’s collapse means that wheelchair users and parents with buggies will not have lift access to platforms for the foreseeable future. “These projects could be restarted in the future but at present they are not included in our business plan, which runs until 2017/2018,” added TfL.”

Transport for All are currently working to raise awareness among the disabled community about these disappointing developments and are at this point considering our next move. Watch this space!