SMART has repeatedly tried to raise the issue of access to Marsden Station. We have always received the reply that it is too difficult and too expensive to create access for disabled people, older people and people with push chairs to Platform 1.
Since Network Rail have been in the process of considering what enhancements are needed in order to provide for more trains along the route (the much-delayed Transpennine Route Upgrade), there would appear to be an even stronger case now for improving the access at the same time.
From May 2018, most Manchester-bound trains use platform 2 (rather than the accessible platform 3). Having to negotiate a steep set of steps is bad enough, but having reached the platform it got no better. The height difference between the platform and the train was 51cm (or, if you prefer imperial measurements, 1’9″).
We have made clear our opposition to this, and will continue to do so. The pressing need is to improve access, not to bring access for Manchester-bound trains down to the unacceptable standards of the Huddersfield-bound platform.
In March 2019 Network Rail raised the height of platform 2. Our preference would be for platform 3 to be the main westbound platform until such time as full disabled access is provided to all platforms. If the choice is between platform 2 with a large height gap and platform 2 raised to a safe height, then the latter is preferable.
However, it is imperative that the Transpennine Route Upgrade will provide full disabled access to all platforms at Marsden (and the eastbound platforms at Mossley & Greenfield), and in terms of disabled access that is the main focus of our campaigning. As at Autumn 2019 this commitment had been given and then reneged upon by the Department for Transport.
We met the minister responsible for the Transpennine Route Upgrade, Andrew Stephenson, on Marsden station in July 2020. This was so that he could see for himself why full accessibility was required and how it could be achieved.
In Autumn 2021, following the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan, Andrew Stephenson twice said in parliament (in response to questions from Jason McCartney MP) that both Marsden and Slaithwaite stations would be made fully accessible.
In May 2022, Network Rail confirmed that as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade Marsden station will have a new footbridge with lifts.