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Was the new rebuilt Tottenham Court Road Tube station not supposed to be step-free?

On 10th February this year Transport for London (TfL) published great news in the form of a press release about the newly rebuilt Tottenham Court Road Tube station, emphasising that the station is now step-free. But many Disabled and older people have reported that in reality the station was far from being fully accessible.

Mark Wild, Managing Director of London Underground, is quoted in the press release as saying: ‘The provision of step-free access is a particularly important milestone as it provides all of our customers access to key central London locations.’

At Transport for All (TfA) we were very happy to publicise this good news. But our members gradually became aware that the press release did not match the reality they found when they visited the new station. Surprisingly, the station is not truly step-free from street to train on the Central Line platforms. It does not, therefore, provide access for ‘all of our customers’

On the Eastbound Central Line platform there is a vague attempt at providing a platform hump, but the horizontal gap between the platform and the train is dangerously wide, and the front wheels of many wheelchairs, when they are of the small caster type, will not be able to cross this gap: instead, they will fall into it. This is a serious accident waiting to happen.

On the Westbound Central Line platform there is no platform hump whatsoever, and no provision of a manual boarding ramp. Wheelchair users will not be able to board westbound Central Line trains at all.

Given that the new Tottenham Court Road Station did not spring into existence fully formed without warning, it is reasonable to assume that there was time to plan ahead with regard to its accessibility features. Why, then, were the Central Line platforms not made fully and safely step-free?

Enormous expense has rightly been incurred in restoring the station’s beautiful Paolozzi mosaics, but TfL has not been equally attentive to the needs of Disabled people who actually want to use the station.

Tube map out-of-date

TfA has noticed another great disappointment concerning this new station.

TfL has failed to update the online maps to show that Tottenham Court Road Station is now (supposedly) step-free. (This is not the only published error about step-free station information)

At the time of writing, late March 2017, the online Tube maps still show no wheelchair symbol of any type on Tottenham Court Road station, and the Step-Free Guide does not even mention the station.

Anyone hoping to use the station would not be able to find out that the station is now (at least to some extent) step-free and much easier to use than before. Many wheelchair users and people with mobility problems, missing this vital information, are going to make unnecessarily complex, difficult and time-consuming alternative journeys.

With easy-to-use modern graphics software, there is no good reason for failing to keep online maps and information up to date the moment anything changes.

We urge TfL to: