Buxton Station, via Northern

Major cash scheme set to bolster accessibility across the North

A huge accessibility enhancement scheme worth £250,000 from Northern Trains is set to improve passenger travel for disabled and older people on the Northern network.

Coming as part of the Northern Accessibility Innovation Scheme, this programme will award funding across a number of categories with one project receiving £100k, several schemes receiving £50k and other proposals each receiving a maximum of £10k.

Ideas for the 2023 scheme could include innovations that make train travel simpler and easier, raise awareness of rail services or encourage people to travel for the first time by train.  

Mark Powles, Commercial & Customer Director at Northern said:

“We are dedicated to making Northern’s services accessible to everyone, and to playing a role in improving the communities along our routes. We want to hear suggestions for how we can continue to do this.   

“I am delighted that for the second year running we have been able to provide a quarter of a million pounds to our Accessibility Innovation Scheme, which will consider a wide range of proposals involving our trains and stations and will have a positive impact for the north.” 

“The fund is part of our wider project to transform our network, giving all our customers a rail service fit for the 21st Century.”

Building upon the excellent projects that were achieved through the Accessibility Fund in 2020/21, this scheme, overseen by the Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG), will improve access for all across West and South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, and Cumbria. Administrative support and a fountain of railway knowledge are being provided by Northern, accompanying the concurrent work from NAUG to ensure the initiatives success.

NAUG is a disability user group that supports a wide range of impairments through its diverse representation within membership, working with organisations to reflect the needs of communities served by Northern.  

The improvements have been delivered in partnership with local authorities, community rail partnerships and charities and include:

  • A pilot scheme at Buxton station to improve station signage for those who are suffering from dementia.
  • An initiative to reduce social isolation and improve the wellbeing of people living in the region, by supporting them to access their local train services.
  • Tactile wayfinding for people with visual impairments.
  • Virtual 360° tours of Manchester Victoria and Blackburn stations.

NAUG spokesperson, Mark Wilson, said:

“Northern are working continuously to improve accessibility across its network and our user group is proving expert lived experience of disability to support this and we are delighted.  

“The scheme cash delivered some great projects last year and we are pleased with Northern’s continued commitment which will benefit many communities across the North.” 

For bids to be considered, the proposed project or scheme must be scheduled for completion by 31st December 2023, be fully costed and appropriately researched. Match funding is not a requirement but will be looked at favourably, especially for schemes with a higher overall value.

Applications can be submitted via the Northern website and will be considered on a rolling basis until 18 December 2022 with judging and awards taking place in the early new year.

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