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Network Rail pledges to move away from ‘bolt-on’ culture towards disability

Network Rail has pledged to make the railway accessible to all and move away from the industry’s ‘bolt-on’ culture towards disability.

At the launch of a new campaign, Spaces and Places for Everyone, Mark Carne said that in the past, access for disabled people has been tagged on at a later stage, rather than being a part of the initial design strategy for our railway.

“We know it hasn’t been good enough in the past, and we need to make it easier for disabled people to plan journeys and travel by rail,” he said. “We are committed to changing this, and doing what is necessary to make sure that inclusivity is deeply embedded in our culture.”

Francesca Martinez, the renowned disabled comic who has cerebral palsy, has teamed up with the infrastructure owner to launch the new campaign.

She said: “As a disabled passenger, I often feel as though my needs are invisible to the rest of society and that sometimes people like me are seen as a burden rather than as valued passengers. Most people consider taking the train just a part of everyday life, but there are millions of people like me who need to carefully plan their journeys so they can get around without difficulty.

“This is why I am supporting Network Rail in its campaign to make the railway more suitable for the modern world and accommodating of every single passenger, regardless of their needs.” 

Research commissioned by Network Rail also revealed that out of the two-thirds of disabled people who travel by train (67%), a quarter do not feel that their journey will be an easy one, while a third said they would use the train more if it were more accessible to them.

As part of the move towards inclusive design, Network Rail has set up the Built Environment Accessibility Panel which consists of disabled passengers who are also experts in inclusive design. Campaign for Better Transport said that any new initiative to improve disabled passengers’ experiences of travelling by rail is very welcome.

During an interview with Martinez, Carne admitted to having been shocked when he realised “how incredibly difficult we were making life” for wheelchair users after joining Network Rail.

However, the recent Hendy Review recommended that Network Rail re-planned its investment programme to defer Access for All works from CP5 to CP6.

RTM reported recently that the decisions about which stations will be affected by the deferred Access for All scheme, designed to improve accessibility across all stations by installing lifts and ramps, will be made later this summer.

Transport for All welcomed Network Rail’s initiative, but said it was “dismayed” by the proposals in the Hendy Review to defer 50% of vital Access for All projects to 2019-24.

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Fitology Phil   12/07/2016 at 12:16

What good are the ramps to get a wheelchair passenger on or off a train at an unstaffed station served by DOO trains?

Marcia   12/07/2016 at 17:06

Having had my walker damaged by a staff member on a Virgin Cross Country train, whilst travelling with my blind husband. It is coming up a month now and I'm still waiting for a reply to my complaint. Now I'm reduced to using the nearest supermarket, parking in the mother & baby spaces near the door and asking store staff to help me load my electric car. My husband unloads under supervision. On that train to Exeter I was told, when I asked why my walker had been moved without even finding out who it belonged to? The reply was, the walker takes up the space of three suitcases. An exaggeration as it can be folded, but there was no need as the space remained empty. What value a suitcase V a disabled passenger? There is certainly room for improvement. What will happen if a train is single manned and there are no station staff where a disabled person needs to get out?

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