‘Access for all’ rail station plea

Petition organised by Julie Forshaw, third from left, and the Solidarity Federation to make the Calder Valley stations wheelchair accessible.
Petition organised by Julie Forshaw, third from left, and the Solidarity Federation to make the Calder Valley stations wheelchair accessible.

A disabled woman has started a petition to make Todmorden Railway Station accessible to all.

Julie Forshaw, of Todmorden, has gathered more than 600 signatures so far from members of the public asking for better access to both Todmorden and Hebden Bridge railway stations.

Julie, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, relies on public transport to take her to and from hospital visits and is now asking Network Rail to make the stations more accessible to everyone.

“Access for both stations is practically impossible for anyone with limited mobility; disabled, parents with young children, the elderly,” said Julie.

“It makes my life really difficult especially with hospital visits. It adds at least an hour and a half to an already long journey.

“There are no disabled taxi services in the area so I have to wait for one to come from Huddersfield. It took me three hours to get to a hospital visit once.”

The petition calls for the stations to be redeveloped to allow for everyone to be able to use the station.

Julie, alongside hundreds of others, stated that although she can get to Manchester from Todmorden, on her way back she would not be able to get off at either Calder Valley stations and would have to travel to Mytholmroyd and then get a disability taxi back, due to steps at the end of the underpass of both.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a name given to a group of inherited conditions, with common symptoms including stretchy skin, loose joints, fragile blood vessels and body tissues.

Calderdale Solidarity Federation supported the campaign alongside Julie and helped her to get a response from the public.

A spokesperson from the federation said: “We are supporting Julie in her campaign for two reasons.

“Firstly, because it’s the right thing to do, the issue directly affects a lot of people’s lives and it’s unacceptable that Northern and Network Rail are dragging their feet over it.

“Secondly, it’s part of a much wider issue. We have an economic system that requires both essential and non-essential services to be profitable and competitive, In order to maintain this it’s often necessary for companies to cut corners, leaving workers and consumers at a loss. This is why we see things like zero-hour contracts, low wages, workfare and, as in this case, low quality of facilities, services and goods.

“We think the solution to this is for working people to support each other’s struggles in both our communities and our workplaces to gain victories in a real sense. This not only improves our lives in a concrete way, but aids us to build the confidence, skills and infrastructure that will help us on the way to a society based on mutual aid and solidarity, a society where distribution is based on need and contribution is based on ability.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “There are stations which require better access and we work with the train companies to mitigate against this as much as possible. We are not funded to upgrade access at stations as stand alone projects but will always work with our partners and third parties to try and identify the funding which would make this possible.”

To view the petition, visit www.change.org/p/network-rail-and-northern-rail-todmorden-and-hebden-bridge-railway-stations-need-to-be-made-accessible-for-all.