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DfT launches consultation to improve transport for disabled passengers

A plan to remove barriers for disabled people to use transport in the UK has today been launched for consultation by the DfT.

Among some of the ideas in the draft accessibility action plan are ambitions to improve accessibility toilets on the railways and ensure better use of Blue Badges.

Alongside the consultation, the DfT is launching a pilot study in October to explore opportunities to increase the availability of accessible toilets on trains and improve their reliability through better tanking facilities.

“I take the issue of accessibility across all modes of transport very seriously,” said rail minister Paul Maynard, who launched the plan in Leeds.

“This draft accessibility action plan is the next step in a much-needed dialogue with disabled people, carers, transport providers and local authorities to identify new ways to improve travel.

“It sets out the government’s strategy to address gaps in our transport services which serve as a barrier to people with disabilities. I secured commitments from the rail industry earlier this year to help make things better for disabled people. It is absolutely vital that all people are able use transport.”

The DfT is also working alongside the Rail Delivery Group to provide “alternative journey options” for disabled travellers, such as if the only accessible toilet on a train is out of use.

A competition will also be launched with the Rail Safety and Standards Board to fund solutions to reducing the cost of accessibility improvements at stations, including the availability of accessible toilets.

And Keith Richards, chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), added: “DPTAC welcomes the launch of this accessibility action plan consultation.

“It supports our vision that disabled people must have the same access to transport as everybody else, to be able to go where everyone else goes and to do so easily, confidently and without extra cost.

“A focus on the future and a commitment to clear actions are key drivers for change and improvement in access to transport and the built environment in which it operates – for all disabled people. We will continue to hold the department to account after publication of the plan.”

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John Grant   25/08/2017 at 19:55

There's more to the DDA than step-free access, of course. Better access to working toilets of any kind would be a good idea (Crossrail please note), but the conditions that make that important are mostly too embarrasing to talk about so they get ignored.

John Boler   25/08/2017 at 19:56

It is anomalous that the railway regulations require all trains to be fully accessible by 2020 but there is no parallel requirement for disabled passengers to be able to board (and alight from) those trains unaided at any station where they call. Once again the government is shirking its responsibility to ensure all stations have step-free access. A condition should be applied to all rail franchises, when renewed, that requires the train operator to instal step-free access at all its stations during the period of the franchise. Why should big railway businesses be excused the equality obligations that apply to big businesses in other sectors of the economy?

Merry   30/08/2017 at 12:27

Indeed - as John mentions, there is more thatn step-free access. For instance, the largest single disability group is the hearing impaired, a 'hidden' disability, and rarely mentioned when acecssibility is discussed. E.g. provision of effective and standard compliant hearing loops (and not just ineffective token installs) wherever there are announcements or spoken communication, accurate written information, effective training of staff... (and how much this applies to other disabilities too, I wonder?)... Looking at accessibility as a whole, I wonder how poor the result might be if someone like the liveability foundation came to audit the railway as a whole? I don't see the rail industry meeting the 'gold standard' for a very long time at their current rate and attitude!

Joel   03/10/2017 at 14:32

And (related to an earlier disparaged comment I made in another segment) the ability to buy fares and cross ticket gatelines without discrimination. Many older and some disabled people can't reach, let alone understand or use Ticket Vending Machines, same for electronic ticketing on smartphones. While those technologies MIGHT being benefits to a great number, they are not a universal travel panacea. Why should those through no fault of their own have to rely on a third party just to acquire a fair fare? Trains are for all, so fares should be too, and that means being able to acquire them.

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