Group welcomes bid to improve access

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A GROUP which has worked tirelessly for improved access at Battle Railway Station has welcomed the news the station could receive extra funding to enable it to go step-free.

Train operator Southeastern put in a bid for funds from the Department for Transport to improve access at a number of stations, including Battle.

The news has been welcomed by the Battle Local Action Plan group.

The BLAP initiative stems from a 2006 Battle Town Council survey of all households who were asked to identify their needs and desires for development of the area over future years. This was followed up with a further survey two years ago.

Many people requested improved step-free access to Battle Station, which was taken up by the Steering Group.

Although the northbound platform is reasonably accessible, the only access to the southbound platform is via a stepped footbridge.

A system is in place to allowed disabled passengers travelling from north of Battle to order a taxi to collect them from Hastings and return them to Battle - increasing journey time by up to 45 minutes. But the service, which requires pre-booking, is seldom used.

Just two years ago Network Rail told BLAP there was little hope of any improvement to access at the station.

But last month Southeastern revealed a shortlist of 41 stations it considered appropriate candidates for funding.

The stations have been ranked in order of preference, with Battle at number 11 .

BLAP argue that poor access at the station is putting off potential tourists from visiting the town.

Bev Marks, from BLAP, said: “The Battle Local Action Plan Steering Group believes that the provision of step-free access for the southbound platform at Battle Station would be a major improvement for the town residents, tourism and all access needs. We hope that Battle Station will make the Southeastern ‘top ten’ and then be accepted by the DfT for high priority development; we are willing to work together to help make this happen.”