Campaign victory for railway station access

bridgeram'rail station bridge protest
bridgeram'rail station bridge protest
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‘OUR bridge’ chanted the placard-waving protesters as they marched back and forth at Sheffield rail station objecting to ticket barrier plans.

Such demonstrations, sometimes attended by MPs and leading councillors, have been held regularly over the last few years since the controversial proposals were first put forward.

Residents and tram passengers were furious, pointing out that the bridge - built with public money - should not be closed to the public and open only to passengers of the privatised railway network.

The bridge was built just a decade ago as part of a £50m project to refurbish the station and surrounding area.

Previously, the only way across was a narrow, vandalised footbridge at the south end of the station, which residents complained did not feel safe. It is still open, but in a dilapidated condition, covered in graffiti and with forbidding spiked fencing on its roof. Few people venture across.

The new bridge was hugely popular with elderly people and young parents because they could cross the railway on a bright, modern bridge with lifts at each end for ease of access.

But it can become chaotic when intercity trains arrive, and hundreds of people want to exit the station at the same time as others try to walk to platforms. The bridge is wide enough for only around five or six people to walk abreast at one time.

A new bridge would relieve that congestion while preserving access for residents and tram passengers to the city centre.

But there was a mixed reaction to the offer of funding for a second bridge.

Marge Allen, co-ordinator of the Friends of Norfolk Heritage Park group, said: “I think the current station footbridge is adequate and the ticket barrier plans should be dropped. This £3 million could be spent on something else.”

Mark Hague, aged 49, a leisure centre worker who lives at Park Hill, added: “I think it’s a victory of sorts that no barriers will be put in until there’s an alternative. But I think £3 million is a lot to spend on a bridge.”

Sheffield Council cabinet member for transport Coun Leigh Bramall said: “We welcome the fact Justine Greening and Norman Baker have given an apparent commitment to properly considering options other than barriers.

“We are willing to consider the offer of funding for a bridge, but this needs to be done alongside the wider regeneration plans for the city. It must not detract from other potential investment pending for Sheffield, and the principle of maintaining appropriate public access.”