Industry welcomes improved station accessibility plan

THE Rail Delivery Group has welcomed a Department for Transport plan to make stations easier to use for less able passengers.

The DfT says a ‘major audit’ of all stations, which was outlined in the Williams-Shapps rail review, has now started, with the intention of seeing what improvements should be made and also recording existing achievements. The findings will form a new public database so passengers can plan their journeys more effectively, and feedback about accessibility will be taken into account when future funding is being considered.

The DfT will also work with Network Rail on installing tactile strips on all station platforms.

The decision to create the accessibility database follows the recent introduction of a Passenger Assistance App, which should cut the notice period needed when a passenger needs help from station staff, such as a wheelchair ramp.

Accessibility minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: ‘Disabled passengers should be empowered to use all forms of transport with the same confidence as everyone else – whether by taxi, train, bus or ferry. Today’s measures will have a positive, real-life impact.’

Robert Burley is director of campaigns, care and support at Muscular Dystrophy UK. He explained: ‘We regularly hear from people living with muscle-wasting conditions who have had to cancel or cut short days out, or don’t consider them at all, because of poor accessibility.

‘The strategy is a step in the right direction to helping tackle the exclusion that so many disabled people face on a daily basis.’

The Rail Delivery Group’s chief executive Jacqueline Starr added: ‘We want disabled people to feel confident on their train journeys and the measures to improve customer information and install tactile paving will help to achieve that. We will support the government’s strategy while continuing to develop our new Passenger Assistance app as part of our ambition to make train travel accessible and inclusive to everyone.’