Rail service improvements and disruptions


Seven innovative schemes chosen in £600k DfT rail accessibility competition

Seven schemes that plan make use of innovative technology have finally been selected to receive funding in order to support those travelling with disabilities across the rail network.

Amongst the government-sponsored programme, originally launched last year, is an augmented reality project that will help those who use sign language on train journeys. An app, Signly, will harness the latest software to give people who are deaf or hard of hearing access to essential travel and safety notices, with signed content delivered directly to their smartphone or tablet.

Other projects set to benefit from DfT £600,000 start-up funding include Nodality, a website that will give disabled passengers and carers the information they need to understand how accessible a given station is; Accessible Journey Pocket Assistant, a journey planner giving customers bespoke guidance for every step of their trip; and Aubin, an app designed to support those with autism by using stress-related preferences – rather than time or cost – to help the user reach their destination.

But not all schemes will target passengers specifically. One of the projects, called ACCESS – Accessibility Evaluation Survey for Stations – will help those responsible for station accessibility to pinpoint problems and prioritise improvements, whilst another, LVIS – Less Visible Impairments – will carry out a study into increasing frontline workers’ understanding about the difficulties of passengers with hidden disabilities.

Rail4All will be an app that helps station staff deal with requests from disabled passengers and will notify the user that their request for help has been received.

Nusrat Ghani, transport accessibility minister, said: “I am determined to make sure that our railways are accessible to everyone, and that we remove any barriers faced by people with a disability.

“Everyone deserves the right to travel independently and with confidence. I am delighted that these innovative projects have been picked to improve people’s journeys, and look forward to seeing how they benefit passengers in the years to come.”

The innovation competition was run by the RSSB as part of the DfT’s work to improve accessibility across all modes of transport amidst criticism from the wider industry that much more should be done. It comes ahead of the government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy, expected later this year.

The RSSB’s chief executive, Mark Phillips commented that he was delighted with the selection, adding that these ideas will “help achieve our aim of improving overall access to the railways” and contribute to a “better, safer railway.”


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