Fringe Box



At Last – Ash Vale Station’s Long-Awaited Access Upgrade Likely To Go Ahead

Published on: 1 Jun, 2024
Updated on: 4 Jun, 2024

Th high embankment at Ash Vale Station has meant that passengers have always faced several flights of stairs to reach platform level.

By David Reading

A six-year campaign for improvements to Ash Vale Station to make the station accessible for passengers facing mobility problems looks like being successful at last.

Ash Vale has been included in a list of 50 stations nation-wide that have been put forward as part of the Government’s Access for All (AfA) programme, launched in 2006 to address the issues faced by disabled passengers and those facing mobility restraints.

Nearly 2,700 people had signed a petition to grant step-free access at the station, situated on a high embankment, which can only be accessed by flights of stairs. The campaign began in 2018.

Petition organiser Daniel McHugh said: “We were given false hopes in 2021 when we thought we had won the battle, but now it looks likely that the developments that people want will really go ahead.”

Explaining why he launched the petition, he said: “When I lived in the Ash area, I used the station every day and often saw people struggling to get on to the platform: some  with mobility problems, others struggling with pushchairs. I thought, ‘this is crazy’ and realised something had to be done.”

A Government statement says: “Ministers have approved a list of 50 additional stations selected for initial feasibility work and if that is successful, they will be taken forward as part of the AfA programme.”

The £350 million funding was confirmed when HS2 funding was reallocated.

Cllr Fiona White

The move has been welcomed by Fiona White, chair of Ash Parish Council and a Lib Dem councillor for the borough and county. She believed Ash Vale Railway Station to be one of the worst on the network for people with mobility issues.

The campaign has the support of Jeremy Hunt, Conservative candidate for the newly formed constituency of Godalming and Ash in the forthcoming General Election – although his statement on social media has been labelled “misleading” by one rival candidate.

Jeremy Hunt

Mr Hunt said in his post: “I am thrilled to see Ash Vale Station was awarded funding via the government’s AfA funding scheme. We need to now pull all the funding  and stakeholders together to make sure this happens. I would love to do this as your MP – brilliant news.”

Graham Drage

Graham Drage, Reform UK candidate, said: “It appears that Mr Hunt is being a little selective with his choice of words. His comment that ‘Ash Vale Station was awarded funding via the government’s AfA funding scheme’ is misleading.

“It appears that Ash Vale Station has only been ‘selected for initial feasibility work’ and the funding won’t be agreed until after the election. Since my hope and intention is to replace Mr Hunt, let me make it clear that this important initiative would also have my full support.”

James Walsh

Labour candidate James Walsh said: “I do question the timing of the announcement of this funding, coming as it does just before a General Election, but the important thing is that funding is now available to enable everyone to use the station unimpeded. This is very welcome news indeed, albeit very late in the day.

“Access to public space should be a right for everyone and we’ve known that the lack of access for the disabled at Ash Vale station has been an issue for a long time.”

Parish chair Fiona White said: “I would like to place on record my thanks to Dan McHugh for starting the campaign on behalf of our whole community. His campaign started in 2018 and I am delighted that it may at last be successful. The government announcement says that there will be a feasibility study. I hope that there is a good outcome and that the work will be fully funded and carried out without delay. It is long overdue”.

Paul Follows, Lib Dem candidate for the election, has also been asked for a comment.

A total of 310 nominations were received from Network Rail, train operating companies and other strategic transport organisations such as combined authorities.

The nominations were assessed against the following criteria:

  • annual footfall – targeting busier stations.
  • rail industry priorities – train companies were asked to consult with MPs, disability groups and local authorities to ensure stakeholders’ support
  • availability of third-party funding
  • local factors – this could include proximity to a hospital or a station with a high proportion of interchange passengers
  • geographical location – there was an effort ensure a fair geographical spread across the country
  • confirmed support of the local MP – Surrey Heath MP Michael Gove backed the access campaign in a letter to South Western Railway.

Godalming & Ash General Election Candidates as at May 30 (Wikipedia)

Share This Post

Responses to At Last – Ash Vale Station’s Long-Awaited Access Upgrade Likely To Go Ahead

  1. John Ferns Reply

    June 1, 2024 at 8:36 pm

    Well done Ash Vale station. Consideration is long overdue. I wouldn’t think too many of the 310 stations mentioned have access as physically challenging for those with mobility problems as Ash Vale.

    That begs the question of where Ash station stands in any priority listing lottery and whether the railway authority has the funding to provide the footbridge promised in the Local Plan by GBC.

    Can any of our constituency candidates – Messrs Hunt, Follows, Walsh & Drage, throw any light on providing a footbridge at Ash station (and a time scale)? Can anyone at GBC? Or will it remain an empty promise to be kicked into the long grass for the next decade?

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *