Public transport is the best way to get around London, this may be a commitment to disabled people but it also makes the experience better for everyone
Spectators heading to the Wimbledon finals this weekend will find it even easier to get to the headquarters of British tennis.
The Mayor is determined to make the Capital more accessible and the upgrade of Wimbledon's closest Tube station meant it was step-free in time for the tournament.
Today the gold medal winning Paralympian, Tanni Grey-Thompson and Kulveer Ranger, Transport Adviser to the Mayor of London, visited Southfields Tube station to see the improvements.
During Wimbledon fortnight, around 30,000 people a day, three times the usual number, pass through Southfields on their way to cheer on Andy Murray and the other top names at Wimbledon and thousands more are expected to use the station when Wimbledon hosts tennis events during the 2012 Games.
Southfields has become the 60th Tube station in the Capital to go step-free.
Its £14.54m upgrade is part of the Mayor, Boris Johnson, and TfL's multi-billion pound Tube investment programme.
The full improvement programme at Southfields Tube will be completed by the autumn but passengers can already use the new lift which was in place from the start of Wimbledon last week and the new entrance, with a more spacious booking hall to allow more people to use the station.
When completed Southfields will have a new ticket office, new ticket barriers, CCTV, help information points, improved signage and new electronic display boards.
Paralympics' gold medal winner and former world record holder Tanni Grey-Thompson welcomed the improvements to the station which have meant wheelchair users, parents with buggies and passengers with heavy luggage can all now get from street level to platform by lift rather than stairs.
Tanni Grey-Thompson, who sits on the Transport for London (TfL) Board which sets the agenda for transport in London, said: 'I am delighted to see ongoing improvements in London's transport system, and it is brilliant that in the lead up to the Olympic Games everyone will be able to get to Wimbledon for the tennis.
'Public transport is the best way to get around London, this may be a commitment to disabled people but it also makes the experience better for everyone.'
The station upgrade will support the new District line trains due in passenger service in 2013 and the two together will result in quicker, easier and less congested journeys for thousands of Londoners.
Between now and 2018 TfL will upgrade eight Tube lines, build Crossrail, and expand the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and London Overground networks, as well as delivering other major improvements.
Such investment is vital to the future growth, prosperity and the competitiveness of London and the UK, particularly to creating new jobs and opportunities.
Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London's Transport Adviser, said: 'The Mayor is determined to make our Tube stations more accessible, safer and easier to use for the thousands of people that rely on them every week.
'With visitors and Londoners flooding through Southfields station for the tennis we wanted to make sure nobody struggled to get to a vital match.
'Southfields will be a key station for the Olympic Games when we will be welcoming the world to London and we want to ensure our thousands of visitors find it easy and safe to get around our city.'
Mike Challis, the District line Manager, said: 'Making Southfields station step-free with the new lift installed for the start of Wimbledon Tennis has been a great help for tennis fans and local residents, particularly for wheelchair users, parents with buggies and passengers with heavy luggage.
'Customers will see that the station has been refurbished sensitively to respect the history of the building, which dates back to 1889.
'The lift shaft has been constructed to match the existing brick work and the station has been repainted using a heritage palette of colours of green and beige. When completed customers will also see a new brick facade that has been built to match the existing station entrance.'
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