DORCHESTER will need to keep on track with its lobbying if the town wants to achieve improvements to the South rail station.

Town councillors say the county town is ticking all the boxes for a grant to improve access – but will still need to maintain its commitment to guarantee the funding.

Among the wish-list for the station is a lift to achieve disabled access across the two platforms, with the idea of re-opening a previous subway ruled out on engineering grounds.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that a feasibility study into a new bridge link will go ahead and if the idea is considered practical the works will be added to the existing Access for All scheme.

Funding for the project will come from the Department, Dorset Council and through money set aside in developer contributions from Brewery Square.

Cllr Molly Rennie told a town council meeting this week that the town was now closer than it had ever been to get the station improvements – but should not rest on its laurels.

“We have worked our way to the top of the list and are ticking all the boxes… we are on a holiday route, an historic route and a route for hospitals so it looks like we could get it – but we will still have to continue to lobbying,” she said.

Cllr Rennie said the town council should also continue to press South West Trains to ensure they keep the booking office and toilets open, with both frequently closed, often with a sign saying there has been staff sickness, or customers being told that the rail company has been unable to get a contractor to clean the loos.

“It’s not just for buying tickets that the station office needs to be open – but as somewhere to shelter from the wind and the rain” said Cllr Rennie.

Cllr Stella Jones backed Cllr Rennie’s call to continue pressing for station improvements but warned that even though the funding was in place it had taken more than ten years to achieve disabled access to the town’s West Station.

New councillor Poppy Farmer, the council’s youngest member, complained that the help button system at the South Station had not been working when she recently tried to use it – forcing an unwanted journey to Weymouth station to sort out a ticketing problem.

“It was pressed several times but no one answered it… it’s also supposed to be an emergency help button,” she said.

Pics – Dorchester South Station showing the passenger bridge across the two platforms. TB