THE proposed re-opening of the Middlewich railway line – along with a new Gadbrook Park station – could usher in long-awaited access improvements at Northwich, a councillor has suggested following a meeting with Northern.

Members of Northwich Town Council, along with MP Mike Amesbury and the Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association, met with Northern representatives to discuss ongoing issues affecting passengers along the Mid Cheshire Line.

Reporting back to councillors on a myriad of issues, including timeliness, rolling stock and extra services, Cllr Andrew Cooper said the issue of accessibility was down to timing.

Currently, there is only stair access to platform two following the closure of a low level crossing in 2012, meaning people with pushchairs, wheelchairs or mobility issues are having to stay on the train until Greenbank in order to cross platforms.

The issue was raised by Mr Amesbury in parliament earlier this year.

Cllr Cooper told fellow town council members on Monday that the government-backed ‘Access for All’ improvements could be applied for as and when funding was announced, but that studies to the tune of £20,000 would be necessary to make a case.

Cllr Cooper said: “The other way to do it is if there is major work that happens at the station they have to bring it up to modern requirements.”

Plans for the Middlewich line, backed by councils and the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Fund (CWLEP), would see a passenger service reopened between Sandbach and Northwich, bringing a new Gadbrook Park station and reinstating the Middlewich station closed in the 1960s.

Cllr Cooper added: “There is not enough space on platform two as it stands, so the options are to reopen platform three or work on platform two.

“That would be, I think, enough to push the fact that they need to mack that platform accessible for it to work.

“There are ways that the access issue could be resolved. The timing isn’t quite right to press the case for it, but it’s coming in the coming years.”

Northern’s stakeholder manager promised at the meeting to keep the council abreast of any Access for All funding opportunities, but Cllr Graham Emmett warned colleagues not to be discouraged from taking a proactive approach.

Cllr Kevin Rimmer said: “People are fed up with words and it’s action we want. In respect of the timescales they have promised, they will be held to account on that.”