TRAIN passengers are to reap the benefits of £810,000 of “long overdue” improvements to Blackrod train station.

Plans have been submitted to Bolton Council for step-free access to platforms to benefit disabled travellers, as well as a drop-off and pick-up point for passengers, and changes to make the station fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act.

Mandy Broadbent, who is secretary of the Friends of Blackrod Station and commutes to Manchester daily, said: “This is brilliant news and it is long overdue.

“Any positive changes at the station are more than welcome.

“It is impossible with a wheelchair at the moment, but is not only disabled people who struggle.

“We have a large population of elderly people in Blackrod and it is also very difficult for people with pushchairs or suitcases.

“There is a bridge with steps either side, and in the ice it is particularly difficult. It would be easier to ski down it.”

The station, which opened in 1841, was poorly used until the 1980s, but in recent years it has become a popular commuter station.

Cllr Ian Hamilton said: “It is well overdue, I recall a few years ago when my daughter had an accident crossing the bridge and was badly injured.

“It has taken a scandalously long time to do it, but thankfully we are getting there.”

The funding is being provided by GMPTE, Bolton Council and the Department for Transport.

It is hoped the Prestonbound access works will be complete during spring 2011, and the Manchesterbound platform work and drop-off facility will be delivered soon after.