Giving Hampstead overground station a lift would “change lives”, say campaigners
�The comedian Sue Perkins and jazz guitarist John Etheridge have added their voices to a campaign for a lift to be installed at Hampstead Heath Overground Station.
Together with dozens of residents in NW3 they are calling on Transport for London (TfL) and Network Rail to make the station accessible for disabled people and mothers with prams.
Casimir Knight and his family live opposite the station but his 13-year-old son, Ben, is unable to use the Overground because he is wheelchair-bound and cannot get up and down the 31 steps at the station.
He suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive muscle-degenerating disease. His father is hoping that the station will be adapted in time for the Olympics so that Ben can make the most of the Games.
Mr Knight, who is a managing director of digital media at Chelsea Football Club, said: “Ben’s in a wheelchair which means we can’t use the station as a family. For example, we can’t go to Kew Gardens and we won’t be able to go to the Olympics except by car.
“It would cost millions of pounds to adapt the Northern line but making Hampstead Heath Overground accessible is achievable. It would have an amazing impact for local people like Ben, and for others visiting the Royal Free.”
Jonathan Bergman is spearheading the Uplift for Hampstead campaign – to get a lift installed.
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He said: “We need lifts to make Hampstead Heath Overground accessible for people with limited mobility, making it friendly for prams, the elderly and wheelchair users. This main station is important to a variety of clinics and health practices in this area including the Royal Free Hospital Trust which has around 900 beds and sees about 700,000 patients a year.”
Helene Curtis, a great grandmother who is also wheelchair-bound, says that being able to use the London Overground would transform her life. “It would make a phenomenal difference to my life,” said Mrs Curtis, who is 86 and lives in South Hill Park.
“I can’t use the bus or tube, but if I could use the Overground I could visit my friends in East and West London and go to the theatre.”
She added that a huge number of people visiting or living in Hampstead use wheelchairs or walking sticks and a lift at the station would transform their lives too.
A spokesman for TfL said that the organisation has recently made an application to the government for funding to make Hampstead Heath Overground station accessible for everyone.
He said: “In 2007 TfL recommended to the Department for Transport that Hampstead Heath station (one of 15) be given step-free access under the Access for All funding programme.
“Ten of those stations received funding but Hampstead Heath did not. TfL has recently made a second application for funding to the DfT and is awaiting the result. Further funds will need to be found to supplement any DfT contribution.”