After four months work, TfL re-opened the southern platform entrances on Friday 4th May 2018, giving step-free access via the ramps at either side of the subway.
- There is an Oyster Reader at each side, also taking Contactless Cards.
- The ramps have been resurfaced and handrails installed.
Several features from the Feasibility Report have not been implemented
- There are no Control Gates, meaning the entrances are open and completely unrestricted
- There are no ticket machines, and no sign of weather protection for installing any.
- They have not built platforms over the disused stairs to provide more standing area, presumably as because without control gates there will be no queueing. The stairs themselves remain closed.
TfL announced on 29th June 2017 that six further stations on the network would get step-free access and that the first of these would be Buckhurst Hill, with work starting before the end of 2017, and completed on all six by 2020.
This follows a long period of lobbying by, among others, Chairman Jenn Page, Cllr Steven Neville, former committee members Tony Oliva and Cllr Gavin Chambers, and local MP Eleanor Laing.
An article, together with a photograph of Cllr Neville with current Chairman Jenn Page, was published in the Guardian on 6th July 2017
Opening these entrances will substantially improve the accessibility to the Underground for those needing step-free access, making life easier for older and disabled people, as well as parents and carers with children and buggies. It will give a greater choice of travel options for everyone and it will particularly benefit residents in south Buckhurst Hill, for example in the Lower Queen's Road and Princes Road areas, and commuters who use the Queen's Road car park.
Nevertheless, the particular station layout at Buckhurst Hill means that whilst these entrances will provide step-free access, they are a long way from the bus stop and taxi rank at the main entrance, so it remains to be seen what difficulties those with disabilities may continue to face when using the Underground. The subway also forms an obstacle for wheelchair users.
Here is the TfL Guide to step-free access at all stations and it can be seen that many stations, including Woodford and Roding Valley, have limitations on their step-free access.
In August 2017 we obtained a copy of the Feasibility Study which had been completed by TfL in February 2017.
It was proposed that the stairs leading from the base of the subway to the platforms, be made permanently out of use by constructing a platform over the top to increase the area available for ticket gates and queueing. At each side there would be two control gates, one of which will be of the wide variety. At each side there would be a ticket machine, though accepting cards only, not cash.
The non-implementation of these features means TfL have chosen the cheapest possible solution, without regard to revenue loss through fare-dodging.
The subway and its ramps are under the ownership of EFDC, and there is no mention of any works on these ramps. They are of course very non-compliant because of their gradient, and the metal barriers half way down. There is therefore no disability-compliant access from one side of the tracks to the other. It seems the TfL Guide to step-free access mentioned above will have to describe the official route for wheelchair users from Queen's Road to travel West will be the long way via Victoria Road, Palmerston Road and Albert Road, and vice-versa. However, the Feasibility Study itself includes an illustration of passenger routes only for able-bodied persons, but not the disabled, and therefore fails to disclose that one key objective of easy step-free access in both directions is not going to be achieved.