Campaigners up and down over lift plans

Tower Hill station is to be accessible for disabled people pic: Ewan Munro

Campaign groups have applauded plans to install a new lift at Tower Hill tube station, but say more needs to be done to make the underground accessible for disabled people.

Hotel group citizenM have agreed to install a lift between the ticket hall and the platform as part of a new development at Trinity Square, near the station. The plans were approved by Tower Hamlets councillors this week.

The new lift will ensure access to the Circle and District lines and has been welcomed by transport campaigners as  “transformative” for disabled people’s access to the capital.

However, Transport for All, the lobbying group, and Real, a recently launched organisation for disabled people in Tower Hamlets, which had both  backed the plans, are still calling on the developers to do more.

In a statement Real said it welcomed the fact that the council, developers and Transport for London had been working together to make the station easier for those with limited mobility but criticised the plans for being “not quite good enough.”

Creating step-free access to the platforms was not the same as making a fully accessible station, which could only be achieved by taking into account the needs of all disabled travellers, such as those with visual impairments, it said.

Mike Smith, the chief executive of Real, added: “We urge TfL and Citizen M hotels to complete a full station accessibility audit before construction begins. Only by making improvements identified by the audit can they truly claim to be opening up Tower Hill station and the wider transport network to disabled travellers.”

Transport for All has criticised the lack of accessible stations provided by Transport for London. Lianna Etkind, campaigns co-ordinator, said: “Funding for stepfree access should not have to be dependent on private developers; nor should it have strings attached. Disabled and older people need to be able to use transport with the same freedom and independence as everyone else.”

The latest Transport for London accessible tube map shows that only 62 out of 270 stations have level access to the platform, and only ten are completely step free.

A spokesperson for TfL said it has made significant accessibility improvements across all its lines, with the Docklands Light Railway and London buses entirely step-free, and further work is being done in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics. More improvements could be made to Tower Hill station in future.

citizenM hotels have not responded to EastLondonLines’ request for comment.

Leave a Reply