Proposals announced to improve rail travel for disabled passengers

Proposals to ensure disabled passengers can “travel with confidence consistently” have been published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Planned measures include improving training for railway staff in how to deal with disabled passengers.

Also, those who do not receive assistance that they have pre-booked as part of their journey will be eligible for compensation.

Other proposals include introducing a new, standardised handover process for disabled passengers between stations and improving the information available to passengers about station facilities and what they should expect during their journey.

The notice period for booking assistance with travel will also be reduced.

Stephanie Tobyn, ORR’s deputy director of consumer affairs, said: “Throughout this review process we have been encouraged by the good practice we have found, however we also know more needs to be done until every passenger can travel with confidence consistently.

“Our proposed reforms are a much needed change to the current guidance that was written in 2009. Much has changed since then and while there has been good practice, this often has not gone far or fast enough.

“We recognise the potential cost of changes and that they may take time to put in place, but we are ambitious in our vision of a more accessible railway for all.”

The proposals have been welcomed by Ceri Smith, policy and campaign manager at disability charity Scope.

Southampton v Manchester United – Premier League – St Mary’s
Southampton v Manchester United – Premier League – St Mary’s

She said: “It’s great to see these positive proposals, which disabled people have long been calling for.

“Disabled people continue to face unnecessary difficulties when travelling by train – such as pre-booked assistance not turning up, and encountering negative attitudes from staff.

“The ORR are right to highlight that progress towards fair and inclusive rail travel has been slow. We hope to see these proposals become a reality as fast as possible.”

Tanyalee Davis mobility scooter row
Tanyalee Davis mobility scooter row

In July, comedian Tanyalee Davis said she was reduced to tears when a railway guard made her move her mobility scooter from a disabled space on a train so a woman could put her pram in the spot.

“It was so humiliating that I wanted to crawl under a rock and die,” she said.

Great Western Railway (GWR) said the incident “should not have happened” and apologised to Ms Davis.

The Government announced in July that £300 million funding would be made available to help make transport more accessible to disabled people.

A consultation on the ORR proposals is open until January 18.