WALES’ disability rights commissioner has called the absence of a lift for disabled passengers at a rail station’s £5.5m new platform “disappointing”.
Plans are in place to add a lift in time for the 2010 Ryder Cup but commissioner Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick says this move puts golfers’ needs above those of disabled customers.
Dr Fitzpatrick is currently taking legal advice about whether this move breaks the law.
He said, “It is silly really when a new platform is built in this day and age that doesn’t take into account the needs of disabled people.”
Network Rail is currently paying cabbies £3 to ferry passengers with mobility problems from other parts of Newport station to platform four.
The only means of access to the 270-metre Platform 4 is a long walk through a car park or through the station over a footbridge.
But both routes are too difficult for passengers with mobility problems.
A Network Rail spokeswoman said, “The taxi service is there as and when needed and can be accessed via a help point on the platform. It will operate until lifts are installed.”
The company has also said that building a lift now will cause extra disruption.
But this kind of lack of consideration for disabled people is not altogether uncommon according to Dr Fitzpatrick.
He said, “It is ridiculous the number of situations that we come across, time after time, of businesses not paying attention to the number of disabled people around and the amount of money that they have got to spend.”
He added that situations like this made it hard for disabled passengers to make trains their first mode of transport.
He said Newport Station did not have hearing loops for hearing impaired passengers.
At the end of next month the Disability Rights Commission will be swallowed up into the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights which opens in October.
Dr Fitzpatrick said he would pass any legal findings regarding the platform to the new commission.