Alexandra Palace Station to become accessible for all

Lynne Featherstone MP with Baroness Kramer, a representative from Great Northern rail, and Haringey Lib Dem deputy leader, Cllr Gail Engert, at Alexandra Palace station.Lynne Featherstone MP joined Baroness Kramer from the Department for Transport at Alexandra Palace station this morning, to formally announce extra funding for the ‘Access for All’ programme.

The programme – which was given a £60 million boost in the Coalition Government’s Autumn Statement – will allow for work to go ahead on Alexandra Palace station to make it step-free and accessible for everyone by 2019 at the latest.

The Liberal Democrat MP welcomed the announcement as a step towards building a fairer society, where all residents can access rail services.

Along with over 750 local residents – Lynne Featherstone MP has long campaigned for more accessible local stations – and the announcement marks a success in the campaign.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“As a Liberal Democrat, I believe in creating a fairer society. And in a fair society, rail services should be accessible for everyone – including the elderly, the disabled, and those with heavy bags or pushchairs.

“That’s why I started a campaign for more accessible local stations. I’m so happy that over 750 local residents signed up to support the campaign, and that we’ve been successful in securing the extra funding for improvements at Alexandra Palace.

“Of course, there are a number of other local stations – both rail and underground – which also need improvements. But this is a great step in the right direction, and hopefully a sign of more to come.”

Lynne Featherstone call for urgent improvements to local rail services

Lynne Featherstone has contacted local rail service providers, Govia, following weeks of disruptions on the Thameslink & Great Northern route.

Trains to and from Bowes Park, Alexandra Palace, Hornsey and Finsbury Park station have been delayed and sometimes cancelled, causing overcrowding, inconvenience, and frustration for commuters and other rail users.

Govia have agreed to meet with the Liberal Democrat MP to discuss the concerns in more detail. They have also provided the MP with a response, saying that over-running engineering works have adversely impacted on their ability to run a good service – and that they have challenged Network Rail on the management of their weekend engineering.

Govia are also consulting on the changes they intend to make to services – including plans to extend operating hours at Moorgate, to allow services to operate there later in the evening and at weekends.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

Delays and overcrowding are incredibly inconvenient for commuters and other rail users. Alternative travel arrangements can also be costly, and few of us have the time to spare.

“That’s why I contacted Govia last week, and made it clear that the continued delays and cancellations are unacceptable. I’m glad to hear that they are working with Network Rail to prevent further problems.

“I really hoped that services would improve when Govia took over from First Capital Connect – and I will continue to push them until things get better!”

Lynne Featherstone MP takes accessibility petition to the station

Lynne Featherstone MP with Dawn Barnes and Councillor Gail Engert, campaigning for step free access at Alexandra Palace Station

Lynne Featherstone MP and the Haringey Liberal Democrats were at Alexandra Palace rail station this morning, talking to commuters about the campaign to improve accessibility.

Local stations such as Hornsey, Alexandra Palace, Bowes Park and Harringay are all very difficult to access for many disabled and elderly people, or those with pushchairs, bikes and heavy bags.

The Liberal Democrat MP launched the campaign – which calls on Network Rail to undertake a study into making the stations ‘step-free’ – last month, and has already attracted over 500 signatures in support.

The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green has also arranged a meeting with Network Rail in September, to present the petition and push for the study into our local rail stations.

Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“It is just not acceptable in this day and age to have such useful local services which are not accessible to everyone.

“At Alexandra Palace, work has been done to make the bridge accessible and step free. But then there is no step-free way to get down on the platform. It is clear that an elevator is needed, as soon as possible. This is the kind of improvement the study could look into.

“I hope residents will get behind this campaign. Even if they are not directly affected by the access problems – I am sure they all know someone who is. The more signatures we get, the stronger our case to Network Rail will be.”

Lynne Featherstone MP launches campaign to improve local rail stations

Lynne Featherstone MP demonstrates the accessibility problem at Alexandra Palace StatiLynne Featherstone MP has launched a campaign to make local rail stations like Bowes Park, Alexandra Palace, and Hornsey more accessible, and is encouraging residents to get involved.

During the local MP’s recent campaign to protect rail services at local stations, many residents commented on how difficult the stations are to access, particularly for the elderly, the disabled, and those with heavy pushchairs or bags to carry.

The Liberal Democrat MP is calling on Network Rail to meet with her to discuss the issues, and to undertake a feasibility study, which would determine what improvements need to be made and how much they would cost.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“Getting on to a platform at Hornsey requires walking up and down two long staircases. At the others there are slopes into the stations, but no lifts down on to the platforms. This makes it dangerous – and in some cases impossible – for disabled or elderly passengers, or those carrying big bags or young children to access the rail services.

“I have made enquiries with Network Rail and our new rail service provider, Govia. Shockingly, there are no current feasibility studies on providing step free access at our local stations. This is just not right.

“That’s why I am asking residents to join me in campaigning for this study, to help improve our local rail stations and make them accessible for everyone.”

Lynne Featherstone MP calls for more accessible local rail stations

Lynne Featherstone with transport campaigners at Bounds Green stationLynne Featherstone MP last week met with a representative from Govia, the company who will shortly start managing Thameslink rail services in and around the local area.

The representative from Govia confirmed their commitment to improving local services, including evening and weekend services to Moorgate from December 2015, and newer, more modern trains with extra space from 2018.

Other changes include the introduction of permanent staff at rail stations from September 2015, and the installation of ticket gates at Hornsey and Alexandra Palace stations. This news follows a long local Liberal Democrat campaign to keep and improve local rail services.

To follow up comments raised in her recent local survey, the Liberal Democrat MP then pushed for better accessibility at local stations, to make them more usable for disabled and elderly residents, as well as those with young children and pushchairs.

The Govia representative said that they aimed to deliver station improvements in partnership with network rail, and would find out whether any studies had been done into the feasibility of making stations more accessible.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“It was great to meet with Govia and to hear the representative reaffirm the commitment to make improvements to our local services. Evening and weekend services into Moorgate and new, modern, spacious trains will be most welcome.

“But what we also need are huge station improvements, to make them more accessible for everyone. The number of steps and the lack of lifts at our local stations prevent some disabled and elderly people using them, and this is just unacceptable. I will continue to push Govia and Network Rail for these improvements.”

Calling a meeting with new rail bosses

Lynne Featherstone MP has requested a meeting with Govia, the company recently awarded the management contract for the new Thameslink rail franchise – which covers rail stations and services in Haringey.

From 14th September this year, Govia will replace current service providers, First Capital Connect, in running services in and out London, via Haringey. Govia have committed to provide new trains, 50% more capacity and extra services at peak time – alongside promises of free wifi at stations and extended staff hours.

From December 2015, services from Alexandra Palace, Hornsey and Harringay will run in and out of Moorgate from 6am – midnight on weekdays, and also at weekends, to reflect the demand for more Moorgate services.

The changes are funded by a multi-billion pound investment by the Coalition Government.

A campaign by Lynne Featherstone MP and local residents last year secured a guarantee from the Department for Transport that no local services from Hornsey and Harringay would be lost.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“Many residents have contacted me over the last few years, expressing their dissatisfaction with local rail services provided by First Capital Connect.

“I of course welcome the Government investment in our local services, and hope to see positive changes as soon as possible.

“I have called a meeting with new providers, Govia, to discuss the timescales for changes made and to make sure they are fully aware of the improvements we need at our local stations. If you would like me to pass on any comments about our local rail services and how they can be further improved – please let me know.”

Oyster Pay As You Go finally comes to Alexandra Palace Station

Finally, after a long campaign to get Oyster Pay As You Go (PAYG) to work from tube to overground trains – we have lift off. To test the reality of Oyster being extended on Haringey’s train services, I went to Alexandra Palace Station to have a go (before the snow!). It worked – I tapped in and I tapped out! Here’s the clip:

(Also on YouTube here.)

So that’s the very good news at long last. However, the bad news is that if you have a Travelcard with limited zones and you want to go beyond them, you will need another electronic card – an Oyster Extension Permit.

This is unnecessarily complicated and First Capital Connect should have been able to come up with another solution. But given it is the system – and whilst I don’t wish to be overtly rude – First Capital Connect must be mad. You have to purchase an Oyster Extension Permit, but they are not going to be sold from ticket offices at overland stations!

Yes, that’s right – if you want this sort of ticket to use the trains, the train company won’t sell it to you.

Instead you will have to buy them at tube stations or at corner shops which carry the Oyster sign. It’s as if First Capital Connect doesn’t actually want people to get hold of the card!

Anyway it’s a New Year, and this is basically a good news story, so I will temporarily stop railing at First Capital Connect and end on that bad pun.