Mapping the Development of

Step-free Access Across

London’s Rail Network

Step-Free London

Mapping the Development of

Step-free Access Across

London’s Rail Network

Overdue Update: Surprises and Progress

I must apologise for my long absence. After going on a much needed holiday in Germany, as well as planning an exciting tube-related event to be revealed later in the year, I am back! Despite an upsetting further Crossrail delay revealed last month, we are now gearing up for an exciting summer, filled with more step-free access, new stations, new trains, and a hopefully pain-free and relatively subdued timetable change.

Beyond Access for All

Network Rail’s Access for All programme, providing funding for step-free access across the national railway network, typically gets the most coverage in terms of improved accessibility. However, a significant number of step-free access projects occur outside of the scheme, with collaboration from local government and private development. One prominent example of this is in Borough of Hounslow, where the borough is using every imaginable resource to achieve near-universal step-free access. As highlighted in this article, the London borough is already benefiting from both TfL’s step-free access plan (Osterley and Boston Manor) and Access for All (Isleworth).

In addition to this, works at Syon Lane, Gunnersbury, and Kew Bridge are at various stages of planning/completion. The most advanced scheme is at Syon Lane and will feature a new footbridge and footpath, bringing step-free access to the westbound platform. This scheme is ambitiously planned to be ready by the end of this summer and is being funded by South Western Railway, the borough itself, Sky, TfL, and the Community Infrastructure Levy. The other works are less advanced and are tied to development in the borough, with Gunnersbury being tied to the Chiswick Tower and Kew Bridge being tied to the upcoming new Brentford stadium.

Another scheme that has slipped in quietly in the background is Chessington South. Currently, the entire 4-station branch line is inaccessible, but this is set to change in a matter of days (!), as the terminus’s single working platform will be made step-free by the end of May. This will allow for a vastly improved experience for passengers wishing to reach Chessington World of Adventures by rail. It is always good to be pleasantly surprised about more step-free access!

Meridian Water

Another exciting development in the coming days is the brand new station in North London, Meridian Water. Taking the place of the soon-to-close Angel Road station, Meridian Water will bring step-free access to a neighbourhood undergoing intensive regeneration. This scheme is closely tied to works at both Northumberland Park and Tottenham Hale, which will also become step-free by the end of the year, if not sooner. The only issue I have with the project is the rumour that both Meridian Water and Northumberland, just like Lea Bridge, will be fully unstaffed. We will have to see how this develops.

New Stadler Trains

Speaking of Tottenham Hale, we are likely now only weeks away from the launch of Greater Anglia’s Stadler Rail trains, as seen in the following tweet:

Level boarding Stadler Rail trains at Tottenham Hale

In total, there will be 20 class 745 trains running in London, covering the intercity service to Norwich as well as the Stansted Express. These will offer level access for the first time in the national network without requiring raised platforms.

Timetable Change

Finally, we have a new timetable starting next week. To be honest, compared to the one last year, it is quite minor and uneventful. Limited to a handful of extra services, mostly at peak-time, the changes are purposely subdued precisely because of last year’s disaster on Thameslink and Northern. Planned changes, including a dramatic increase in frequency between Reading and Waterloo and the whole recasting of the Great Western Railway timetable are now due for December. One change that is going forward, long overdue and delayed, is a steady increase in the Thameslink frequency at weekends from 7 to 11 trains per hour.

May we have an exciting summer with welcome surprises and on-time delivery!


  1. The former Eurostars ” orchestra pit ” at Waterloo Station is now open with access to trains via stairs from main line station and a long very wide subway ..

    Usage is still low with mainly passengers having alighted trains using link .

    However lifts between levels and direct access to Underground is still not available. So Waterloo and City Line is still not accessible.

  2. The Ian Allan site is reporting that the York Road entrance to Waterloo Station has reopened and although this doesn’t affect step free access the new station now has 3 escalators with a centre escalator replacing the fixed stairs . This entrance will still provide useful street level access especially for those heading to and from the south bank.

    One interesting fact is the mention of how prior to the opening of this entrance for the Festival of Britain in 1951 their was an entrance on the Waterloo side of York Road and how their are old lift shafts beneath Elizabeth House … So could redevelopment of Elizabeth House include reuse of these shafts ?

    1. That would be very interesting. Do you know where these shafts led to? The main issue with Waterloo step-free access is the final lifts in the interchange level, so full step-free access would require a lot of work in the tight corridors

  3. Meridian Water Station has failed to open today with Network Rail site now showing opening date as next Monday 3rd June with Angel Road closing this Friday.

    1. This is much needed. There is also a recent article about step free access on the Central line at Bank. I will make a post about all this in the next few days

  4. Was at Waterloo Station today and lifts between upper Station and orchestra pit have still not come into service. Although doors to one lift were open at orchestra pit level.

    One change is thie high level walkway from Waterloo Station across York Road has re-opened and while only stairs are currently available down to south bank I noticed a lift has been installed although not yet in service from walkway down to street level beside the reopened York Road Underground Station entrance thus providing a step free route between Waterloo Mainline Station and South bank .

    1. Oh wow that’s awesome about the lift at York Road. And idk what is happening with the orchestra pits, its very disappointing

  5. Went to West Hampstead today where the new Overground Station entrance has opened and its a very wide spacious entrance . However, the lifts are not yet in use with a notice quoting Autumn for lifts . Only the lift to the westbound platform can be seen at entrance level with ” out of service ” message scrolling, while tge eastbound platform lift is still behind hoardings at entrance level.

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