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Good news for disabled rail travellers

PUBLISHED: 19:34 19 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:11 12 July 2010

Disabled travellers from Diss got one step closer to their ten-year goal of independent train travel yesterday - after the town council recommended approval for an access ramp.

Disabled travellers from Diss got one step closer to their ten-year goal of independent train travel yesterday - after the town council recommended approval for an access ramp.

Currently, there is disabled access from the road to the London-bound platform at Diss Rail Station, but not to the Norwich-bound side - or between the two.

Now Norfolk County Council has pledged £75,000 for a ramp, as well as a further £20,000 for other improvements including cycle shelters.

“From my point of view, it's extremely important. Currently, if you need to go to Norwich from Diss, you have to be bounced across the railway line itself,” said former chairman of Disability Issues and Social Support (DISS), Andrew Malster, who uses a wheelchair.

“Young mums with pushchairs, they have to do the same. It's not dignified for anybody.”

The car park on the Norwich-bound side of the station at Gilray Road was built in 1999, and town councillors raised the issue of a ramp for disabled users the same year.

However, no modifications have been made in the decade since.

A planning application to install a ramp leading to the privately held car park on the industrial site was approved last year, but work was held up by technical problems.

“The design of the access ramp has had to be changed to allow for Network Rail cabling along the embankment,” said John Birchall, communications officer at Norfolk County Council.

“We have therefore had to re-apply for planning consent. A decision is expected by the end of September.”

“If, as we expect, permission is given we will be able to start work around the end of October or early November,” he said.

The design of the ramp will mean that the 110-space car park loses one parking spot, but will give full disabled access to both platforms.

However, wheelchair users wishing to travel from one platform to the other will still need to be escorted across the tracks by station staff, or take the more than half-a-mile route by road to the other entrance.

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