Michael Gove is continuing to press for step-free access to be installed at Ash Vale Station, as the current access at the station is difficult for less-able people, such as the elderly, and completely impossible for those in a wheelchair. It is also problematic for parents with small children and pushchairs to manage several flights of steep stairs.
November 2018 – Michael supported South Western Railway’s nomination of Ash Vale station for the Access for All programme, which provides funding to improve accessibility at railway stations.
April 2019 –Michael was regrettably informed on 5 April 2019 that the funding bid for Ash Vale was unsuccessful. He wrote again on 18 April to the Transport Secretary to ask him to provide details of any other sources of funding.
August 2019 – Following the Transport Secretary’s reply (see attached below), Michael wrote to Network Rail to nominate Ash Vale station for the Access for All Mid-Tier Programme, and to also ask whether accessibility improvements can be made during any other planned project works.
February 2020 – Michael met the Chief Executive of Network Rail, Andrew Haines, and once again raised the need for step-free access at Ash Vale.
June 2020 – Michael wrote to Chief Executive of Network Rail, the Secretary of State for Transport, and to the Chair of Enterprise M3, regarding opportunities to fund step-free access at Ash Vale. Attached below are the responses from Network Rail & Enterprise M3.
June 2021 – Michael approached both Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council concerning the possibility of third party funding for this project, and he met once more with the Chief Executive of Network Rail to enquire about what progress has been made. The Chief Executive promised to update Michael surrounding any progress made securing funding.
November 2021 – Following news that Network Rail was awaiting approval from the Department for Transport, Michael wrote to the Department to follow up.
December 2021 – Michael received the below response from the Transport Secretary explaining that applications for the Department’s RNEP programme were being considered.
February 2022 – Michael was very disappointed to learn from Network Rail that they did not expect Ash Vale to be selected for the RNEP programme. This was particularly frustrating as Network Rail had completed all the preliminary work required for the scheme, including costing, designing and securing planning approval. Michael wrote immediately to the Transport Secretary to throw his full support behind the proposals once more, and to also ask for the scheme to be put forward as part of the Departments next tranche of Access for All funding between 2024-2029. Later that month he received the below further reply (28/2/22).
March 2022 – Michael was contacted by South Western Railway to confirm that the next tranche of Access for All nominations had officially opened and Michael subsequently confirmed that he would once again be supporting the scheme in Ash Vale.
August 2022 – Following further communication between Network Rail, Surrey County Council, and the Department for Transport regarding what potential alternative sources of funding might be available, Michael held a meeting with the Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure at Surrey County Council, Cllr Matt Furniss, to catch-up on this issue.
October 2022 – Having still not heard news from the Department for Transport, Cllr Furniss and Michael wrote a further joint letter to the Transport Secretary requesting an update on the bid and urging the Department and Network Rail to realise the benefits of the project and bring forward the necessary funding. Michael has since received the below response (18/11/22) and continues to lobby for this long overdue and necessary project.
February 2023 – Michael wrote once again to the Transport Secretary to follow up on his response and request an update on the progress of the announcement of successful applicants. He once more reaffirmed his avid support for the campaign and hopes for positive news soon.
April 2023 – Michael held a meeting with Transport Secretary Mark Harper MP to discuss wider rail services in Surrey Heath, but made sure to mention the important issue of step-free access at Ash Vale Station. The Transport Secretary was receptive to Michael’s highly vocal support – he confirmed that bids were being assessed and that he had taken on board Michael’s comments.
July 2023 – Michael wrote once more to the Transport Secretary to chase for an update on when successful applicants might be announced and will be sure to share the response he receives in due course.