Work begins to build an Assisted Travel Lounge at Manchester Piccadilly

Network Rail is investing £800,000 to create an inclusive and accessible Assisted Travel Lounge for disabled passengers at Manchester Piccadilly station.

Manchester Piccadilly Assisted Travel Lounge CGI composite

Credit: Network Rail

Network Rail have begun work to build an inclusive and accessible Assisted Travel Lounge for disabled passengers at Manchester Piccadilly station. Network Rail is investing £800,000 to transform a disused room near platform one into a quiet and welcoming waiting space for people with additional mobility and sensory needs, served by a dedicated team of staff to help them.

Man Picc Assisted Travel lounge CGI 3

CGI rendering – Credit: Network Rail

The Assisted Travel Lounge

The Assisted Travel Lounge will include:

  • Accessible seating and seven wheelchair bays
  • An accredited Changing Places toilet facility
  • A sensory space for people who find stations overwhelming
  • A staffed welcome desk
  • A water bowl for service dogs.

Work to build the lounge will be complete by the New Year. It’s been designed with the guidance of Manchester Piccadilly’s disability task and finish group. This includes disabled people, their carers and advocates, to ensure the space meets the needs of those who’ll use it.

 “Travelling through a busy railway station can be daunting for disabled passengers, but the new Assisted Travel Lounge will provide a friendly space for people to wait and get the help they need from a dedicated team,” Maisie Hogan, Network Rail Sponsor for the project, said. “It will transform the way passengers access rail travel at Manchester Piccadilly.”

“In the post Covid recovery of the rail industry we have seen a substantial increase in journeys by disabled passengers,” Stephen Brookes MBE, Rail Policy Adviser at Disability Rights UK, said. “We therefore welcome the provision of a new fully fitted Assisted Travel Lounge at Piccadilly which will make rail travel a more relaxed, less intimidating experience for anyone with disabilities. We are particularly pleased that Network rail closely cooperated with our pan disability reference group in the final design of the facility.”

CGI rendering – Credit: Network Rail

 “It’s hugely welcome to see work underway on the new Assisted Travel Lounge at Manchester Piccadilly,” Vernon Everitt, Transport Commissioner for Greater Manchester, said. “Transport for Greater Manchester has been working in partnership with Network Rail and local train operators for a number of years to make public transport more accessible and this new facility will make a really positive difference to many people travelling in our region. As we build an integrated and accessible Bee Network, we look forward to more investment projects in future to make all stations across Greater Manchester accessible to all.”

Assisted travel is offered to all passengers who need help getting between trains and the station concourse. During 2022, the service has been used for over 31,000 journeys. In 2021, the figure was nearly 22,300. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the figure was around 44,500. Major train operators which serve Manchester Piccadilly have welcomed news of the Assisted Travel Lounge investment for their passengers.

CGI rendering – Credit: Network Rail

Train operator reactions

“We want everyone to use the railway, so it’s great news that Network Rail’s work to create this space which meets the needs of people who require assistance is now underway,” Brandon Peat, Accessibility and Inclusion Manager for Avanti West Coast, said. “This new lounge is the latest initiative on our route to make rail travel accessible and inclusive for all. Once complete, it will help improve the overall journey experience for disabled customers when travelling to and from Manchester.”

“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and we want all to travel in a safe and comfortable environment,” Kathryn O’Brien, Customer Experience Director for TransPennine Express, said. “The new Assisted Travel Lounge underlines this commitment and will provide a pleasant space for customers, allowing them to access any help they need or to wait for their train in a calm and safe space. The lounge is a great step in making rail travel even more accessible.”

 “This is a fantastic project that will make a real difference to our customers,” Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said. “It will complement our work to transform our network and encourage people to use public transport – no matter their circumstances.”

The building of this lounge is a great step to offering those that need assistance a place that feels safe and secure in what can be a busy and overwhelming environment,” John Robson, CrossCountry’s Regional Director West Midlands and North West, said. “Once the space is opened we hope our customers will make full use of the facilities, building on a better overall journey experience.”

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