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  1. ITV Report

How Crossrail's delay is causing problems for Londoners who use a wheelchair

For anyone who's been waiting for Crossrail to open, the constant delays will be frustrating. But for Londoners who use a wheelchair, it can be almost impossible.

Crossrail was billed as the project that would transform accessible transport in London - with step free access provided across every one of its 41 stations. The now three year delays to the opening of the brand new central section have made things difficult enough. But I've also found out that step free access upgrades at existing stations - that were supposed to be delivered as part of the project - are way behind schedule.

A total of 19 TfL stations were supposed to be getting new step-free access upgrades by the end of last year. But figures obtained by ITV London show that only eight of these have been completed - and only one was delivered on schedule.

Andy Adamson uses a wheelchair and says it's increasingly difficult to get around the city

Andy Adamson is on of those affected by the delays. He moved to Woolwich partly because of Crossrail and the promise of a new accessible station. But while he waits for it to open his commute can be a nightmare - trains too busy to even get on with his chair, meaning he needs to travel in the wrong direction to even get a spot. He told me on bad days his commute can take nearly two hours, and he's fed up.

When I first moved here eight years ago I could easily get on the Jubilee Line. I could easily get on the DLR. But with all the new houses it's very difficult to get on those lines particularly being a wheelchair user.

– Andy Adamson

In terms of the existing stations, campaigners like Transport for All told me they don't see any reason why step free access at stations like Ealing Broadway couldn't just be delivered right now - before the rest of the network opens.

TfL Rail's director of operations did apologise for the delays, but said the engineering challenges posed by stations that in some cases are 50 or 60 years old were proving harder than anticipated. He says step free access is on track to be delivered across most of the existing stations on the Crossrail route by the December 2020, with the new section opening in 2021. But when I pressed him, he couldn't absolutely promise. So it looks like those who have planned their lives around Crossrail will just have to keep hoping there are no more delays.

  • There are 32 existing TfL stations which will become part Crossrail
  • 19 of these were supposed to be getting step free access upgrades by the end of last year
  • Figures seen by ITV London show only 8 have been completed so far
  • Only one was delivered on time

We’re very sorry that there have been delays in delivering step-free access at certain stations on the TfL Rail network, which we fully recognise is frustrating for our customers. We can assure everyone that the work to install lifts at these stations is well advanced and we are working with Network Rail to get them open as soon as possible.

New lifts will open at Hanwell, Iver and Langley stations in the coming weeks and the remaining eight TfL Rail stations will be step-free by December 2020.

Making transport accessible for all is paramount in what we do. The Elizabeth line will completely transform the accessibility of the transport network for passengers across London and the south east. All 41 Elizabeth line stations will be step-free to platform level, staffed from first to last train, with a ‘turn up and go’ service offered to anyone needing assistance.

– Howard Smith, TfL Rail Operations Director