VOLUNTEERS have hit out over delays to a £1.2m project to allow disabled access at their train station.
In 2011, funding was announced to provide a footbridge and ramp to Chirk Railway Station, giving access for disabled people to trains travelling northbound towards Chester on platform one.
Chirk was one of five stations which successfully applied as a result of the Welsh Assembly's inquiry into accessibility of railway stations in Wales.
But the Friends of Chirk Station say work has still not begun on the project, despite a completion date being set for February of this year.
It follows concerns raised in the Advertizer’s sister paper, The Leader, by Ruth Drake, whose daughter, Elin Haf, is wheelchair-bound with cerebral palsy and Ruth says she can only access one side of Ruabon station.
The 32-year-old said people with wheelchairs or buggies for their children can’t get across the footbridge to travel northbound as it has steps. She was advised to use a taxi.
However, Christine Ashford, who adopted it ten years ago as part of the Friends of Chirk Station, said Ms Drake had been misinformed.
Miss Ashford expressed sympathy with her plight and said she had seen disabled people being carried over the bridge in their wheelchairs at Chirk Station in the past.
She said: “Friends of Chirk Station has lobbied long and hard for disabled access for our own station at platform one for trains travelling north.
“Since 2011 I have asked, along with others, when this work will start. The given date for completion was February 2013 but now the work apparently will start in March 2014 according to information published by Arriva Trains Wales in their April Connect newsletter.
“The whole situation at our station in Chirk is ridiculous and a real concern to all our volunteers.
“They watch daily as people struggle up and down 24 very steep steps to platform one, many of them young mums with children in pushchairs.
“It’s an accident that is waiting to happen. In this day and age, it is not acceptable.
“I’ve been on the station when people have had to call those waiting for them to come and help them with their suitcases.
“I’ve also seen someone being carried up and down the steps in their wheelchair.
“That our station is on the eight mile corridor for the World Heritage Site does nothing to impress visitors who use the trains to pay visits to this area,” she added.
John Bell, former Welsh Conservative parliamentary and Assembly candidate, has campaigned since 2006 for better disabled access at local railway stations.
He said: “After so many people have campaigned for disabled access, it beggars belief that the work is still not done.”
He accused Network Rail of being ignorant of the state of local stations and said he is still awaiting a Welsh Government response as to when the Chirk project will start.
An Arriva Trains Wales spokesman said: “Site surveys have started, prior to the installation of a new footbridge accessible for the disabled. Work is due to begin in March 2014 as part of the Department for Transport’s ‘Access for All’ scheme.”