Rail stations becoming more accessible

The Department for Transport has announced a plan to make stations easier to use for disabled passengers.

The DfT says it has now started the 'major audit' of all stations that were mentioned in the Williams-Shapps rail review. The goal of the audit is twofold: to find out what improvements should be made and to record existing achievements.

The audit’s findings will be entered into a new public database to enable passengers to plan their journeys more effectively, and passenger feedback on accessibility at stations will be taken into account when allocating funding in the future.

The DfT has also pledged to work with Network Rail to install tactile strips, a navigation aid for blind passengers, on all station platforms.

The decision to set up the new accessibility database follows the recent launch of the Rail Delivery Group’s Passenger Assistance App, which aims to shorten the notice period passengers need to give to get help from station staff with things like wheelchair ramps.

“Disabled passengers should be empowered to use all forms of transport with the same confidence as everyone else,” said accessibility minister Chris Heaton-Harris.

Robert Burley of Muscular Dystrophy UK said he regularly heard from people who had to cancel or shorten days out or never considered them in the first place, because of the lack of accessibility on stations. He called the new plan “a step in the right direction” to tackling the exclusion disabled people face.

Rail Delivery Group CEO Jacqueline Starr said her ambition was “to make train travel accessible and inclusive to everyone.”