Wareham station: Apology over disabled rail access closure

Stanley Cole at Wareham station
Image caption Stanley Cole needs to travel to London regularly for treatment

A council has apologised to the parents of a disabled boy for failing to provide step-free access across a railway in Dorset.

Sam and Stefan Cole had to carry seven-year-old Stanley in his wheelchair over a footbridge to cross the tracks at Wareham station on Tuesday evening.

The pedestrian level crossing closes at 18:00 each day because of a shortage of attendants to operate the gates.

Dorset Council, which manages the crossing, said it was "deeply sorry".

Mrs Cole said the family had returned from a medical appointment in London for Stanley, who has cerebral palsy.

"After a long day, Stan was quite upset by that point, so having to bump him and carry him up and down the steps is unnecessary when there is a perfectly good crossing that doesn't need these massive barriers and a guard on them," she said.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The only pedestrian route across the railway in the evenings is a footbridge with steps

Mrs Cole said other crossings on the line, including those at Wool and Poole, were just as busy but used automated barriers.

The level crossing, once branded one of the most dangerous in the country, is due to be shut as part of a national programme of closures after a number of near misses.

Dorset Council, which employs the attendants, has had difficulty filling the posts but said it would be fully staffed again next week.

Executive director John Sellegren said: "No apology can be enough for the situation this family found themselves in and we are deeply sorry.

"We can confirm that from Sunday the level crossing will once again have three trained attendants, enabling it to return to openings hours that cover the first and last trains of the day - seven days a week."

Plans to add a ramp to the footbridge were rejected in 2018 because of its visual impact.

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