TWO of Croydon stations will get step-free access in the next round of government-funded upgrades, the Department for Transport has announced.
Coulsdon South and Selhurst will both benefit from the Government's Access For All scheme, which provides funding for better access to stations nationwide.
Carshalton station in Sutton will also benefit from the funding. However, Norwood Junction, for which the Advertiser is campaigning to get such access, will not get a share of the £60 million funding pot for upgrades.
Transport minister Baroness Kramer announced the successful bids last week. She said: "Making the rail network accessible to all is a vital part of our plans to build a stronger economy and a fairer society."
Charles King, chairman of East Surrey Transport Committee, agreed that the announcement was great news. "Coulsdon South is the busiest station on the Brighton mainline without step-free access, so we're really pleased," he said.
Peter Appleford, of Coulsdon West Residents' Association and a wheelchair user, also welcomed the plans, since at the moment he can only travel north from Coulsdon South. "It'll be good to give people more choice and allow them to travel more freely," he said.
At Coulsdon South, the southbound platform is currently only accessible via 44 steps over a footbridge, or 37 steps to the rear entrance in Reddown Road.
Mr Appleford said to journey south towards Gatwick he had to travel up to East Coulsdon first.
It has not yet been announced when works to bring the step-free access will be underway, though it will be before 2019.
At Coulsdon South, work to lower ticket counters to make them access-friendly and install better hand rails on the station's footbridge would take place in the new year, Mr King said.
David Scorey, deputy managing director of Southern Railway, said improving accessibility was a "key priority" for the operator.
"The allocation of funds to create new step-free routes at these stations will make it easier for even more people to travel by train," he said.
In response to the Advertiser's Better Access for Norwood Junction campaign, Transport for London last week said it would re-evaluate introducing step-free access, which it had previously said would not be possible, at the station.
TfL also said it may then look at applying for future rounds of Access for All funding for Norwood Junction.