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DfT Reports on the Experiences of Disabled Rail Users

Posted in General News on Monday, July 15th, 2019

One year on from the launch of its Inclusive Transport Strategy the Department for Transport (DfT) has released a report on disabled rail user’s experiences. The main concern to come out of this report is that two thirds of the disabled people who were surveyed said that they experienced at least one problem when travelling by rail. The stage of the journey where people most commonly experienced problems was when they were on-board the train, 23% reported problems at this stage. The two stages of the journey where access issues were least common for disabled people were in the station itself and the category labelled ‘other’ problems which accounts for 3% of the issues the respondents faced. The components of a rail journey that were covered in the report included; journey planning, buying tickets, passenger assistance, getting to the station, at the station, on-board the train and onward travel.  A number of things have to be in place to allow a disabled rail passenger to have a completely successful journey and two of the most closely linked areas of the report were the sections relating to the problems faced by disabled people when they are planning a journey and the issues that people encounter with the provision of passenger assistance. The majority of the rail passengers who reported a problem when planning a journey said that this was because of a lack of confidence and for some people this lack of confidence was because they felt unable to trust the provision of passenger assistance.

Last week the DfT invited professionals from with the rail industry to nominate the stations which they believe would benefit most from receiving a portion of a £20million fund which will be used to make small scale access improvements, such as installing handrails, tactile paving, and increasing the height of platforms so that disabled people can board the trains more easily. This £20milliion fund was first announced in April and it is part of the government’s £300million budget to improve accessibility under the Access for All programme. The Accessibility Minister, Nusrat Ghani commented: “While many take for granted the ability to travel easily from A to B, access for the fifth of people who identify as disabled can be far from straightforward. We want disabled people to travel easily, confidently and without extra cost, which is why it is fantastic to be opening this fund today. I look forward to seeing what ideas the industry has for accessibility improvements as we work towards a more inclusive rail network.”

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Alex Srdarevic-Lewis's Gravatar
Alex Srdarevic-Lewis

Monday, July, 15th, 2019

Everyone disable or not, should be able to get into all transport, all stations should be wheelchair accessible. Today this is impossible!

Blair Hobson's Gravatar
Blair Hobson

Tuesday, July, 16th, 2019

I agree Alex. However it's not quite that simple. The national network is reasonably OK, though as that brief report mentions platform height is inconsistent. However the London Underground, especially central London is very poor. To provide complete access at all railway stations wherever they are would however cost billions. Just where would this money come from? The railways can't even get the government to modernise them with electrification so no chance of anything else.

Claire Allison's Gravatar
Claire Allison

Tuesday, July, 16th, 2019

I hope Perth will be one of the stations which benefits from funding to raise platforms. Last August, apart from the fact that no message was sent from Edinburgh to tell the staff that I would be on the train (a kind passenger risked being stranded and separated from her luggage to get out and find someone to help me) - I was told to reverse my power chair down the very steep narrow ramp onto the platform. I am not skilled at reversing yet, and they wouldn't help - so I crossed my fingers, announced I would be going down forwards, engaged lowest speed, leant back slightly and did manage the descent safely. However, it is not only wheelchair users who are challenged by Perth's low platforms - anyone under 5'3" finds it really hard to jump down.