Plans to modernise Torquay’s Victorian railway station

Major changes are being planned to modernise Torquay’s Victorian railway station so it complies with equality law.

The operator Network Rail wants to install lifts so all passengers can use the footbridge to cross between the two platforms.

Under planning law governing railways, the station operator does not have to submit a full planning application for the work.

But it has to seek approval from Torbay Council as the planning authority for the siting, design and specifications.

And as the building is listed because of its historic importance, the public sector company has submitted an application for listed building consent to allow the changes.

The proposed improvements would be funded from the Government’s Access for All scheme, designed to tackle issues faced by disabled people using rail stations.

(Image: Network Rail)

A statement from Network Rail said Torquay station did not comply with the law on equality or meet industry standards to provide access for all passengers, because there was no step-free route between the two platforms.

It said: “At present it is impossible for those rail passengers who are not able to use the existing station footbridge to cross over platforms. This is clearly unacceptable.

“Therefore, Network Rail proposes to undertake the implementation of an ‘Access for All’ scheme at Torquay Railway Station in order to comply with the various legislation, railway design codes and standards. These aspirations would provide better station facilities for rail passengers.”

Network Rail has been working on a scheme to improve access at the station since 2010 and has investigated a series of options including a subway under the tracks.

After consultation, it is now proposing to put the lift shafts in the towers which currently house the footbridge steps, alongside new steel staircases.

The work would mean increasing the height of brick-built towers to take the lifts, and some alterations including the relocation of the female toilets.

Torquay Railway Station, close to the seafront near Torre Abbey and the Grand Hotel, was opened by the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway in August 1859, 11 years after Torre Station. It was rebuilt in 1878 by the Great Western Railway as Torquay grew in popularity as a holiday resort.

The station buildings were listed in 1986 as an important surviving example of Victorian railway architecture.

Torbay Council will make a decision on the scheme after public consultation on the proposals ends on Wednesday, February 17.

Devon Live