AFTER more than a decade of campaigning, disabled users of Dorchester’s West station will no longer have to travel to Weymouth and then back again to head north.

A new no-step access ramp is being created to take passengers to the northbound platform from a specially built layby in Williams Avenue.

Retired Dorchester councillor Trevor Jones, who started fighting for improved access more than 10 years ago, says he still finds it hard to believed that it is happening - after being told several times in the past that work was ‘imminent'.

Mr Jones says he started campaigning because it was unjust that disabled people were being told to travel to Weymouth and then change trains to head back in the direction they had just come from if they wanted to travel in the Bristol direction.

All three local councils at the time paid into a fund to get the work done, but still nothing happened.

“At least once bosses from Network Rail came to the station to say that they were ready to start that was years ago.

“Matters came to a head when the Poets Way housing scheme, alongside the West Station, was being planned, and I was told that that station access would be by a ramp with steps so I got on my high horse. The Friends of West Station and all the local authorities have been very supportive.

“Network Rail on the other hand have shown no energy or enthusiasm for doing what needs to be done even though they are the responsible body,” said Mr Jones.

Research shows that in 2018 Dorset County Council agreed to contribute £171,000 which include installing the layby on Williams Avenue; West Dorset District Council £35,000; Dorchester Town Council £10,000 with a further £25,000 in local donations. Network Rail’s contribution was then put at £40,000.

Said West Dorset MP, Chris Loder who has been lobbying for the work to start in recent years: “Finally seeing this work beginning is a huge relief. Disabled access to the northbound platform has been an issue for many years now. It’s disgraceful that disabled passengers are currently unable to access the platform and I have been campaigning to get a ramp installed.”

A Network Rail spokesman said they expected work on the ramp to be completed in July. They say part of the delay was caused by difficulties over access and the ownership of the land which led to a public consultation which, in turn, had to be ratified at a magistrates hearing, itself delayed from early 2020 to January 2021 by the Covid pandemic.