New card scheme launched to support rail customers with assistance dogs

Rail companies are now using information cards to help make travel easier for people supported by assistance dogs.

A new scheme from train companies will help make travel easier for people who rely on assistance dogs. Train operators are providing thousands of people with physical disabilities or mental health problems with a handy laminated card that will help them educate fellow passengers. The card explains why the assistance dog needs to sit under an unoccupied seat.  By raising awareness, this simple card should also improve the overall experience of passengers who want to use the railways with their assistance dog. The cards can be particularly useful on services where it’s not possible to book a seat in advance. Most assistance dogs are trained by well-known charities registered with Assistance Dogs UK.

Dogs and train travel

“We’ve all seen guide dogs when they are out and about supporting their visually-impaired owners,” Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive Officer of the Rail Delivery Group, said. “It’s less well-known that many of our other four-legged friends have their own skills and character quirks that help people with a range of support needs. These include people with physical disabilities and those with autism, epilepsy, or other complex health conditions. Many of these conditions are not visible so we want to make life easier for the people whose daily lives they affect. Being able to place the card on the seat next to them – together with the other ID the dogs carry – should achieve that on their train journeys. It will also help fellow passengers adjust to the sight of assistance dogs doing their job while apparently relaxing under a spare seat.”

The cards, which were tested with charity Assistance Dogs UK, can also act as a red flag for customers who are allergic to dogs or afraid of them.

“More than 7000 people rely on a highly trained assistance dog from one of our member charities alone, they enjoy the greater independence that such dogs bring, including when traveling,” Vicky Worthington, Development Manager with Assistance Dogs UK, said. “We’re delighted to support this scheme and very pleased to see that rail companies are making it easier for disabled people and people with medical conditions to travel while educating the public about how these wonderful animals change – and even save – lives.” 

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