Trains companies team up to improve accessibility for disabled customers
TransPennine Express (TPE) and Northern have joined forces to improve the accessibility of trains and stations across the North and into Scotland.
This October, both companies hosted an inaugural Inclusivity Forum giving disability groups and organisations the opportunity to offer constructive feedback and to air any concerns regarding train travel.
Attendees at the meeting included Disability Rights UK, I Am Me Scotland and N Vision along with representatives from other leading disability organisations.
Between 2018 and 2020, TPE will be introducing 44 brand new trains and during the session, attendees were invited to put forward ideas and suggestions to improve the accessibility of these.
TPE is committed to ensuring all customers, irrespective of their disability, can travel safely and comfortably. The company were the first UK rail operator to introduce ‘Blue Assist’, a pioneering initiative designed to help customers with disabilities and learning difficulties, such as Autism and Dyslexia. All our station colleagues and conductors are being trained in disability awareness to help those customers with both visible and non-visible disabilities.
Leo Goodwin, Managing Director for TPE commented: “Informed by representatives from some of the most knowledgeable disability organisations in the UK, the new forum provides a fantastic opportunity for ourselves and Northern to work collaboratively improving access to train services across the North.”
Stephen Brookes MBE, transport lead for the Disability Action Alliance and the Office for Disability Issues commented: “I am very pleased to have been part of establishing the new Inclusivity Forum.
“As a regular national and local disabled passenger, and using the same engagement model which works so well in a similar role I have with Blackpool Transport, I know how beneficial it is for transport service and rail operators to have a complete level of engagement with and understanding of disabled people and customers with reduced mobility.
“It is re-assuring to know that the operators of both franchises in the North of England are keen to deliver inclusive and accessible travel for disabled people and those with reduced mobility. The fact that we are being listened to and can offer guidance on such matters as inclusion, quality of journey experience, the use of journey care, scooter/wheelchair access and support and the importance of freedom of choice is key to the success of the relationship.
“I know from subsequent e mail exchanges that the forum members look forward to being part of a successful and meaningful relationship.”
Alex Hynes, Managing Director for Northern, comments: “Improving access to our stations and services is high on our agenda for the next nine years, which makes this forum vital for exploring the issues our customers face.”
Further meetings are planned to take place in the future with three forums planned each year.