Rail franchises operators & contracts

27.07.19

ORR publish guidance to support older and disabled passengers

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published its new Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) guidance for train and station operators which they say will lead to older and disabled passengers being able to travel by rail with greater confidence.

There were almost 1.3 million journeys in 2018-19 with booked assistance for passengers, an increase of 2% on the previous year.

Data showed most passengers were satisfied with the service they received. However, the ORR’s review did show there were still areas that could be further improved, particularly with current industry systems and processes, which meant that passengers did not receive the service they expected all the time.

The ORR review was informed by extensive passenger research, input from disability groups and industry experts.

READ MORE: ORR urges sweeping accessibility and compensation reforms

The new and updated requirements provided a number of guidance points to ensure that passengers who needed assistance could request such services with confidence and ease. These included:

  • Better staff training in disability awareness, including involving disabled people in service delivery and requiring refresher training at least every two years
  • Increasing the reliability of assistance for passengers that book in advance and those that request assistance at the station, by introducing a new standardised handover process for all GB mainline stations, by June 2020
  • Improving the ability for passengers to receive redress when booked assistance fails
  • Reducing the notice required for booking assistance from the current maximum of 24 hours to two hours ahead of travel, by April 2022
  • Making journey planning easier by improving the quality of information available to passengers on what facilities, such as step-free access and staffing, are available at key stations

The ORR’s vision of easier assisted rail travel for passengers who required it has been backed by disabled people’s organisations, industry bodies and train and station operators, with revised policies from operators expected to be submitted by December 2019.

Stephanie Tobyn, deputy director, Consumer Affairs ORR said: “The previous guidance was written a decade ago and since then society’s expectations have moved on.

“The changes we have made reflect a greater awareness of the accessibility needs of different individuals, changing demographics and travel patterns, and the many opportunities presented by new technology. We will now work with the train and station operators to ensure they deliver on society’s changed expectations.

“Great Britain’s railway must be as accessible to older, frail and disabled people.”

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