ORR welcomes progress by rail industry in training staff to support disabled passengers

The Office of Rail and Road has praised train operators for the progress they have made in training staff to support disabled passengers.


Credit: ORR

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has praised train operators and Network Rail for their disability awareness refresher training.

ORR requires operators to deliver refresher training on disability and equality every two years and specifies the accessibility competencies that staff must be able to demonstrate, including in areas such as communications skills, accessibility at stations and providing safe assistance.

ORR reviewed operators’ plans paying close attention to key factors including whether the training had been developed in consultation with disabled people, and whether there would be assurance that staff had understood and could apply the training content. ORR was pleased that nearly all operators demonstrated good practice in each of these areas.

Grand Central, Greater Anglia, Merseyrail and Network Rail exceeded ORR’s expectations by planning to deliver refresher training to all staff, rather than only those that are passenger-facing, while Grand Central was singled out for providing in-person training for all staff.

ORR reported that operators are also delivering training to accompany the roll-out of the Passenger Assist staff app. This has the potential to improve how frontline staff communicate, resulting in more reliable assistance provision.

The rail regulator stated that the TransPennine Express initial proposal for training delivered via a briefing document was not as effective as e-learning nor classroom teaching, as it did not allow comprehension and retention to be checked. ORR has received assurances from the operator that an e-learning module will now be provided to all passenger-facing staff, and that the training will be delivered by 31 December 2023.

ORR also welcomed the potential for greater consistency in the service provided to passengers through industry plans for greater standardisation of refresher training in the future.

“Well-trained staff are essential for an accessible railway,” Stephanie Tobyn, Director of Strategy, Policy and Reform, said. “The industry needs people with the appropriate skills, knowledge and attitude necessary to effectively assist disabled passengers to travel with confidence. We have reviewed how operators are providing disability and equality refresher training for all passenger-facing staff, and we are pleased to find that the rail industry is making good progress.”

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