DfT launches strategy to improve transport access for disabled passengers
The Department for Transport (DfT) has unveiled a range of initiatives to remove barriers and improve confidence for disabled people as they return to trains after the pandemic.
Disabled passengers will have better access to public transport and a bigger say in how they travel, under a new Department for Transport (DfT) strategy that will boost inclusivity across the entire network.
An audit of all UK train stations, originally pledged in the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, is now underway – helping to identify improvements and highlighting existing areas of excellence. The findings will form a new public database so people can better plan their journeys and, along with input from disabled passengers, will shape future investment in accessible rail travel.
The DfT will also work with Network Rail to improve safety with a new programme to install all station platforms with tactile paving. This comes on top of work to develop a Passenger Assist App to simplify communication with rail staff and encourage better customer service.
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 and double-down on our promise to build back fairer from COVID-19.”
Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive Officer at the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), said: “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.”
Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of the independent watchdog, Transport Focus, said: “It’s important that transport operators seek the views of disabled people to make sure services better suit their needs as the country recovers from the pandemic. These measures will help remove barriers and improve access for all transport users.”
Robert Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “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 announced today is a step in the right direction to helping tackle the exclusion that so many disabled people face on a daily basis.”
The measures are part of the government’s National Disability Strategy – the most ambitious endeavour to remove barriers to disabled people’s everyday lives. It makes solid commitments and sets out immediate practical steps to create a society that works for everyone. It follows the “It’s everyone’s journey” campaign, launched in 2020 to champion equal access across all forms of public transport and encourage people to be more considerate and supportive of others when using the transport network.