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Celebration as new lifts and footbridge at East Grinstead station in West Sussex steam into use, with step-free access for everyone

Special guests from East Grinstead and across the railway industry joined together to celebrate the opening of a new footbridge and lifts on 2 September, improving accessibility for passengers at their local station. 

As well as the completion of the £4.5 million project, funded by the Government’s Access for All scheme, a plaque was unveiled in memory of campaigner Eric Mackie MBE, who set up the East Grinstead Access Group and dedicated his life to improving access for people with mobility issues in his home town.  

Bluebell Railway locomotive number 65, dating from 1896, made a special appearance to mark the occasion, pulling into platform 2 to mark the first time it had run on main line tracks since 1963. 


Katie Frost, Network Rail’s Sussex route director, said: “We always want to do more to improve passenger experience and make our stations easily accessible for everyone. This investment means that more people can benefit from step-free access. 

“Accessibility is so important and with the help of the funding from the Department for Transport we’re able to upgrade our stations so that everyone can equally navigate their way round them in a safe and secure way.” 

“We’d like to give special thanks to the Bluebell Railway who kindly offered to bring out the magnificent steam train and 1953 vintage bus to the event.” 

This initiative is part of the Access for All scheme which is government funded to create an easily accessible route from the station entrance to the platform. 

Rail minister, Wendy Morton, said: “Our railways are for everyone, and this £4.5 million of Government Access for All funding will not only upgrade East Grinstead station but improve accessibility and ensure easy, comfortable journeys for all.” 

Mims Davies, MP for Mid Sussex, said, “It’s a joy to see the opening of the East Grinstead Access for All improvements, I was pleased to get the vital key investment of £4.645 million from DfT building on the work from my predecessor, Sir Nicholas Soames and local campaign groups and Cllr Norman Webster on this important access improvement for the town and its visitors. 

“I am very pleased Network Rail have rightly fast tracked this key program of works, to provide quicker this much-needed step-free access for all rail passengers. This will be especially appreciated by those with restricted mobility, wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs who will rightly be much better served, and this is extremely welcome. I am delighted the Bluebell Railway joined us to make this a very positive event for the town, its residents, and businesses.” 

Anne Mackie, Eric Mackie’s wife, said: “Eric was a passionate campaigner to improve accessibility in East Grinstead – he would’ve been thrilled to see his efforts pay off and the railway station made fully accessible thanks to the Access for All scheme.” 

Local resident, William Tregunno suffered from Muscular Dystrophy and the old structure posed extreme difficulties with someone with mobility impairment. 

His father, Tony, said: “The new lifts and accessibility improvements at East Grinstead station will literally transform the lives of people with reduced mobility, like our son, who sadly are often be defined by what they cannot do. Our family is beyond happy that the railway station is now fully accessible thanks to the Access for All scheme”. 

Roy Watts, Bluebell Railway’s vice president, said: “The Bluebell is delighted to be invited to be part of this important event and indeed unique occasion honouring a local resident. 

“The Bluebell looks forward to welcoming more passengers by Southern especially as access has been made even easier by this new footbridge.”

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