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05.05.16

Putting accessible and inclusive transport at the heart of HS2

Charlotte Hughes, director of external relations at the Community Transport Association, invites HS2 to work together with communities in order to put accessibility and inclusivity at the heart of the infrastructure project.

It is hard not to be impressed and excited with the key facts about HS2:

  • “We haven’t built a new railway north of London for over 120 years”
  • “HS2 will link 8 of Britain’s 10 largest cities, serving 1 in 5 of the UK population”

David Higgins said that “HS2 must also help change the way we deliver infrastructure in this country so we can reap the benefits for future projects”.

For the Community Transport Association (CTA) members’ end service users, it is not simply a seat to street journey – it’s sometimes ‘how do I get out of the house, and who can help me do this?’

We want to work with major infrastructure projects like HS2 because today, in 2016, a high percentage of passengers encounter barriers to entering a station, buying a ticket or boarding a train or bus – which, if you are not living with a disability, under 65, and in employment, you will probably take for granted as part of your everyday life.

Innovation and inspiration over future design, shared spaces or problem solving around accessibility needs is rarely taken to those people who use those services daily. For too long transport and infrastructure decisions have been made with little or no consultation with those sections of society who fear its use or see it as inaccessible.

Our organisation, the CTA, is a national charity working to highlight the work of its 1,700 members across the UK and to bring attention to the need to support Accessible and Inclusive Transport solutions. We are not here to pass judgement on the work of HS2; we would like to work with them to bring together partners from the accessible and inclusive sector, ensuring engagement with local communities and dialogue at the beginning and throughout major project developments.

We are starting to be heard. We were invited to meet David Cameron, with 12 of our members, to a reception at Number 10 thanking us for our members’ work to ‘Keep Britain Moving’, joined on the day with commercial partners Hitachi, Virgin Trains East Coast and Arriva. It’s great to see the government committed to accessibility.

Our message to HS2 is that we would like to agree some principles which could be at the heart of future infrastructure and technological developments. David Higgins’ vision for ‘Changing Britain’ is balanced with the many social benefits of community-based engagement and shared transport experiences.

Our Westminster conference is on 22 November and is being supported by the Institution of Civil Engineers, with Andrew Jones MP as our keynote speaker. We would invite commercial partners to attend, exhibit and speak to our members about how they can work together, which we hope is the first step to changing Britain for the better.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

E: charlotte@ctauk.org

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