Station accessibility is a frequent subject for campaigns on FixMyTransport. Progress is being made by the rail industry but it will be many years before stations are universally accessible.There are two main aspects to rail accessibility, firstly people should receive the best help and information about the current facilities when making a journey, and secondly that there is continual progress towards fully accessible stations and trains.
Regarding help and information, National Rail have just launched a Rail Travel Made Easy Website. This guides you through the whole journey and includes plans and photographs of every station and information about how to book assistance.
“Passenger Assistance is a service provided by train companies to assist passengers at stations, when boarding or exiting their train and on board the train. It is free and available to anyone who needs assistance due to a disability, temporary impairment, or older age, with no requirement that you possess a discretionary railcard.”
For making progress towards a fully accessible network, FixMyTransport campains are an ideal way of gathering supporters, getting advice and tracking and publicising progress.
Some good news is that the Department for Transport (DfT) have funded an ‘Access for All’ programme which was launched in 2006 and includes main, mid-tier and small station budgets. The existing programme of work covers 154 main stations that will receive an accessible route into the station and to and between each platform, normally using lifts or ramps. A further 160 stations are being upgraded as a result of the mid-tier programme (where bids were made for the funding) and will benefit from work ranging from platform humps to reduce stepping distances to new step free routes. 1000 stations are covered by the small stations programme (where each operator is allocated a budget) which tends to focus on improvements for visual or aural impairments.
A further £100m has recently been announced for ‘Access for All’ and the DfT will be looking for stations to include in the programme.
“How these will be selected is yet to be finalised, although it is likely to be similar to the existing criteria. To ensure the best possible value for money stations have been selected based on their annual footfall weighted by the incidence of disability in the area. Around a third were also chosen to ensure a fair geographical spread across the country.”
The DfT have said that people can contact the DfT “with suggested stations for inclusion in the programme or they can contract train operators or local authorities who will also be consulted about their priorities. Please note though that stations will not be selected by “votes” but that each project will need a full business case before it is included in the programme. For smaller scale improvements then people should lobby the train operators in the first case.”
If there is a local Rail User Group then this will often be able to help with information and support for station enhancement campaigns. Railfuture have a list of Rail User Groups. The access ramp shown in the photograph was built by the train operating company following a local campaign.