Providing step-free access to the platforms at Handforth Station
and a nearby Car Park and Ride system
The bid for funding
On 25th July 2018, as part of their Inclusive Transport Strategy, HM Government announced that a sum of £300m had been secured to continue with their Access for All scheme – a scheme to provide “an obstacle free, accessible route to and between the platforms” of railway stations.
Considering the long flights of steps needed to access the platforms at Handforth station and the major house building projects (approx. 2,500 new homes) destined for the Handforth area, officers of FoHS felt that the time was then right to formally apply for funding from Access for All.
The 4th of April 2019 was the date on which the 20-year old dream of FoHS to provide step-free platform access at Handforth came true. Andrew Jones MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport with responsibility for railways) visited Handforth Station on that date to announce that our application (for a pair of lifts) to Access for All had proved successful.
When can we expect the lifts to be installed?
For a variety of reasons this is a difficult question to answer. However, there is a clear indication that the project is well under way. On 3rd March 2020, FoHS were informed by Network Rail that “GRIP 3 has been signed off. Network Rail will be going to their panel at the end of April for funding to continue the design utilising their Capital Delivery project management team – a contract should go to the designer in early May”.
The outline design will subsequently (GRIP stages 4 and 5) be developed into a robust engineering design (the full design) to which the project will be built. Once the full design is approved by the Department of Transport, the rail industry and local authority partners, the construction and installation work will have to be carefully timed. The rail line through Handforth is used throughout the 24-hour day. The same is true of Station Road. This means that lift installation will require temporary road and rail closures. FoHS are hopeful that lift installation may occur during 2023 into 2024, but unrest in the rail industry, and the COVID-19 pandemic, may delay progress.
As part of the submission, FoHS offered to bid for £50,000 to provide enhancements to Network Rail’s basic infrastructure. Initial funding has been received; this has resulted in FoHS both commissioning a formal Landscape Design for the whole station area and also issuing a formal invitation to artists to work on the project.
What do we know about the Car Park and Ride system?
The overhead photograph below shows where the 115 planned car parking will be sited. Most of them will be located to the south and southeast of Handforth Youth Centre, with the rest to the west of the youth centre.
Ten of those spaces will be aimed at people with disabilities. The site will also include 8 motorcycle bays and secure lockers for 36 bicycles.
The existing access roadway to the Youth Centre and to the Scout Hut (marked “Hall” on the plan) will be retained. Elements of the proposed park and ride system include a bus stop, bus turning circle and bus shelter. The bus turning circle will, in part, use the existing entrance to Old Road. In order to address the concerns of nearby residents, the proposed car park will be covered by closed circuit TV and will have both directional environmental lighting and enhanced landscaping.
A new crossing on Station Road (located immediately south west of the car park exit; see plan) will provide the preferred pedestrian route between the station and the car park. Network Rail and Cheshire East Council are currently exploring ways and means of widening the footpath on the south side of Station Road,to make it more suitable for wheelchair users.
We expect that the proposed car park will reduce the existing deficit in car parking places near the village centre. It should also help to meet the anticipated parking needs of the Garden Village at Handforth and other new developments within or near the parish borders.