At long last: First designs for new disabled access at Pontefract Monkhill Station revealed

The first draft designs for new disabled access at a railway station have been revealed, following years of campaigning by locals.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 4:45 pm

Pontefract Monkhill Station's Platform 1 has only ever been accessible via a set of steps, making life a nightmare for wheelchair users and pram-pushing parents.

There have even be reports of one disabled passenger being forced to crawl up the stairs to leave the station after getting off the train.

Plans to install lifts on both the station's platforms, which will be linked by a new footbridge, have now finally been put forward and the work is expected to be completed in 2022.

A new footbridge will link the two platforms, which will each have a link.

One wheelchair user who regularly uses Monkhill, Damon Nicholson, welcomed the news, having said in 2019 that the lack of adequate facilities made him feel like a "second-class citizen".

"All I can say is it's about time," Mr Nicholson, 32, said.

"It's been long overdue. I think Monkhill Station's been overlooked for too long.

"I'm pleased something's finally being done."

At the front: Damon Nicholson and his cousin Stephanie Downes are unable to use one of Pontefract Monkhill's platforms because there is no step-free access. At the back from left to right are Damon's sister Mary Nicholson, Stephanie's sister-in-law Susan Smith, Damon's father's partner Karina Nicholson and Pontefract councillors Clive Tennant, Pat Garbutt and David Jones.

Ever since he was 18 Mr Nicholson has faced disrupted trips back home to Pontefract on the train whenever he visits Wakefield or Leeds.

As Northern's service back to the station stops on Platform 1, he is forced to stay on the train before getting off at the next stop, which is Knottingley. He then travels back on a train heading in the opposite direction, getting off at Monkhill when it stops on Platform 2.

Mr Nicholson said though he was happy with the development, he would have preferred a ramp to be installed instead of lifts.

"I'm quite claustrophobic so going in lifts can be difficult for me," he explained.

The revamp will cost £2.4m.

"We also need to know that lifts will be maintained, as if they're out of use then they're no good to anyone."

The revamp will cost £2.4m and will be funded through a combination of cash from Wakefield Council, a grant from the Department of Transport and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).

Pontefract North councillor Lorna Malkin, who's been heavily involved in calls to improve the station for several years, said she hoped the move would make a "big difference" to passengers.

She said: "The case of Damon was a prime example of how crazy it is that people couldn’t access the station without steps.

"I've seen some of the mock-ups of how the station will look and it's going to be a big change. We're really pleased it's going to be happening."

Local MP Yvette Cooper added: "After all our hard campaigning, it is really good news that Pontefract Monkhill will finally get the disabled access it has needed for so long.

"The £3 million footbridge with lift access will mean no more struggling up stairs for those with mobility issues or buggies, or even worse, having to go up to the next station in order to travel back to the platform on the right side of the station."

Local Democracy Reporting Service