THE operators of a private car park are considering legal action after rail authorities fenced off a pedestrian access point close to Peterborough train station.
Staff at the Britannia car park, on the site of the old Royal Mail sorting office, could only look on as workers from train operators East Coast fenced off the exit at 3.30pm on Monday.
The exit is the closest access point to the train station from the car park and even has a ramp to make it accessible to wheelchairs.
But now, car park users have to exit through a doorway onto the A15 Bourges Boulevard and make their way along the footpath running alongside Station Street.
East Coast has said it had taken the action on “direct advice” from station landlord Network Rail.
Gary McArdle, regional manager for Britannia Parking – which runs the car park on behalf of owners ING – said there had been a lot of complaints from users and he feared the impact it would have on disabled people trying to access the station.
He said: “I think a lot of people are very upset about this.
“Network Rail had been threatening to do this for a while but it still came as a surprise when they went ahead with it.
“But we’re not sure whether they put this fence on their land or our land, so the matter is currently with our lawyers as we look to fight this.
“For able-bodied people it means a couple more minutes walk, but it is much more difficult for disabled people.”
The matter was brought to the attention of The Evening Telegraph by disgruntled commuter Ian Betney (46), from Hampton Hargate, Peterborough, who has used the car park since it opened in October because at £8 for 24-hour parking, it is cheaper than the £13 charged in the car parks run by East Coast at the station.
He said: “I cannot believe the pettiness that has resulted in this car park exit being blocked.
“Peterborough station is very busy with many commuters returning late at night and I am really concerned for the safety of those now forced to walk along the road.”
But East Coast has responded by arguing that closing off the exit was set out under the terms of the lease between ING and Royal Mail, which still owns the land, and it was done following advice given by Network Rail.
An East Coast spokesman said: “We closed off a gap in the perimeter fencing around the car park on the former Royal Mail site on Monday, on the direct advice from the station’s landlord, Network Rail.
“We are advised that the terms of the lease, under which the temporary car park site has been let to a commercial car park operator by Royal Mail, do not provide for direct access between the site and the station.
“Network Rail wrote to ING, the company managing the temporary car park, last week to inform it that the access through the perimeter fence would be closed as no access agreement between them and ING has been reached.”
Network Rail was unavailable for comment.