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Mum calls for better access to Forest Gate station during refurbishment

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 March 2017

Forest Gate station

Forest Gate station

Archant

A group of mothers has attracted the attention of Crossrail top brass with an impassioned blog calling for better access to Forest Gate station.

The temporary bridge at Forest Gate station The temporary bridge at Forest Gate station

Crossrail work has seen major changes to the stairway at the station, and a lift is set to be installed by 2019 – part of plans to have step-free access to the Elizabeth line within five years.

But Firgas Esack, of Ridley Road, Forest Gate, claims that lift access is needed immediately.

“Since the work on Crossrail began at Forest Gate, what’s been lost is a set of 15 or 16 stairs, replaced by a very steep staircase that’s always slippery and busy, and impossible to negotiate. It’s not just difficult – it’s dangerous,” she said.

Frustrated by the poor access, Ms Esack, who works as a publicist and has three young children, set up a Wordpress blog to act as a forum for local people to call for lifts to be installed sooner than scheduled.

The temporary bridge at Forest Gate station The temporary bridge at Forest Gate station

“The campaign started with a WhatsApp group of local mothers I was involved in,” she said.

“Then by chance I met the chairman of Crossrail, Sir Terry Morgan, at a breakfast meeting at the Newham Chamber of Commerce.”

The meeting inspired Ms Esack, 42, to set up the campaign blog.

As things stand, parents with pushchairs who do not want to navigate the stairs are forced to take the bus or walk to Stratford in order to catch a train.

“Like many others, we moved to Forest Gate because it has a reputation as a family-friendly area,” said Ms Esack.

“Given the feats of engineering involved in making Crossrail, we think they should be able to provide a lift.”

According to Ms Esack, more than 200 local mothers have added their voices to the campaign, with the blog offering them the chance to recount their own experiences and difficulties with access to Forest Gate station.

“Instead of just a petition with a liste of names, we wanted to bring our own personal stories to the campaign,” she explained.

The group is set to meet with Crossrail director Matthew White on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Network Rail is undertaking essential improvement works to Forest Gate station as part of the Crossrail programme.

“During the course of our works to deliver new lifts and a refurbished ticket hall, we have found that significant repairs need to be undertaken before we can finish the refurbishment works and provide the much-needed step-free access for passengers.

“We are currently reassessing the programme and could push the completion date into 2018.”

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