Greenford Underground Station was opened in 1947, the first station to have an escalator giving access to a platform above street level. Following the 1987 fire at King’s Cross Station it is the only one that still has wooden treads on its single upward escalator. That, as far as many people are concerned, is the problem with Greenford Station. If you are carrying heavy bags, have small children with you or find it difficult to walk you still have to make your way down a steep set of stairs when you arrive there. The venerable escalator occasionally breaks down which necessitates a long wait for specially made parts and a long and tiring climb to the platform.
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Almost £4 million was spent on installing a lift but the money ran out before it could be completed and the issue has been a local political football ever since. Promises are made and broken as to when the station will be made fully accessible to those with disabilities. There is also the potential impact on the local economy – local hotels now welcome guests from as far away as China and the United States. I saw the look on the face of one visitor as he arrived at the top of the stairs dragging an enormous suitcase and have heard the gasps of others as someone tripped on the way down. If that happened to me I wouldn’t want to come back.