True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities of privatisation; No 98: so you want access to the station ?
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The Independent Online
Local people have long campaigned for improvements to London Road station in Brighton. In particular, they have wanted to create an entrance allowing people direct access to the eastbound platform, which would enable disabled people to use it. The work, estimated to cost pounds 10,000, involves cutting into the side of a bridge to create a path to the platform. At the moment, many people risk their limbs by jumping over the fencing.

Over the past two years the campaigners have been told that the work was going to start soon. A sum of pounds 4,000 was made available by East Sussex Council and matching funds from the local train operator, Network SouthCentral, which agreed the work would encourage greater use of the station.

It did appear that the work was about to be undertaken this winter but there was a problem over the entrance. The British Rail Property Board needed to transfer 20 square metres of land to NSC, now privatised as Connex, and is refusing to do so because there are "development plans" for the site. There are also legal problems over public corporations giving land to private companies.

Therefore, while most of the path can be built, there would not be an entrance to it. Now with Brighton and Hove councils set to become a unitary authority for the area next May, East Sussex's offer of support will be withdrawn and the work will never be carried out.

Charlie Trousdell, chairman of the local rail amenity group, said: "These plans would have happened a long time ago had it not been for privatisation. The property board has no interest in improving access for passengers, or indeed any interest in the rail industry."

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