Ben Houchen has signed off a £1m investment to significantly improve disability access at Billingham railway station.
Billingham is the only regularly served station in the North-East with no access for passengers with mobility problems to any of its platforms.
Currently, from the car park and drop off point, access onto platforms 1 and 2 is only available via a stepped footbridge.
The scheme will see the existing pedestrian footbridge, which is approaching the end of its life, replaced by a new one served by lifts, making it step-free and suitable for wheelchair users.
On top of this, a series of car park and access route improvements will take place to make the station even better to use for all passengers.
The £3.59m project will be delivered by Network Rail, which is also contributing £1.39m to the plans, with a further £1m funding coming from Department for Transport’s Access For All fund and £200,000 from Stockton Council.
Design work for the new access and facilities has been ongoing, ahead of work starting in March 2022 that is due to be complete by November.
Tees mayor Ben Houchen said: “I’m delighted we can move these plans a step closer to reality to make it easier for local people, especially those with mobility issues that find it difficult or impossible to use stairs.
“The station is a vital lifeline for many people in the surrounding area, connecting them with Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and the wider North-East but for too long has been inaccessible to many.
“This funding will allow us to install new lifts and improve access points to make sure no one is being left behind and make the station a real option for people like wheelchair users.”
Matt Rice, route director for Network Rail’s North and East route, said: “I’m really pleased this eagerly anticipated and much needed project to improve accessibility at Billingham is now ready to be delivered.
“We’re delighted to be contributing towards the funding of the footbridge alongside our partners in both central and local government and will continue to support the aspirations of Mayor Houchen and other railway stakeholders as we work together to keep improving the railway for existing and future passengers in the Tees Valley.”