Assisted Lounge CGI composite, via Network Rail

Manchester Piccadilly ramps up accessibility investment

A major £800,000 accessibility upgrade project has begun at Manchester Piccadilly station, with works in place to build and inclusive and accessible Assisted Travel Lounge.

The Network Rail funded scheme will look to transform a disused room near platform one into a quiet and inviting waiting space for passengers with additional mobility and sensory needs. This area will be staffed with a dedicated team to assist when needed. The works for this lounge construction began on Friday 28th October and will reach culmination by the new year.

The completed lounge will include:

  • Accessible seating and seven wheelchair bays
  • An accredited Changing Places toilet facility*
  • A sensory space for people who find stations overwhelming
  • A staffed welcome desk
  • A water bowl for service dogs

Manchester Piccadilly Assisted Travel Lounge CGI composite

To ensure the project meets the needs of those that require the assistance within the station, the designs have been compiled with guidance from Manchester Piccadilly’s disability task and finish group, encompassing disabled people, their carers and advocates.

Maisie Hogan, Network Rail sponsor for the project, said:

 “Travelling through a busy railway station can be daunting for disabled passengers, but the new Assisted Travel Lounge will provide a friendly space for people to wait and get the help they need from a dedicated team. It will transform the way passengers access rail travel at Manchester Piccadilly.”

The inclusion of this Assisted Travel lounge will present a much-needed boost in aiding the economic recovery of Manchester rail, which is still trying to reach pre-pandemic passenger levels. Catering for the needs of disabled passengers can unlock a major revenue influx whilst also creating a better experience for passengers as they navigate between trains and the station concourse.

Stephen Brookes MBE, rail policy adviser at Disability Rights UK, said:

“In the post Covid recovery of the rail industry we have seen a substantial increase in journeys by disabled passengers. We therefore welcome the provision of a new fully fitted Assisted Travel Lounge at Piccadilly which will make rail travel a more relaxed, less intimidating experience for anyone with disabilities.

“We are particularly pleased that Network rail closely cooperated with our pan disability reference group in the final design of the facility.”

Vernon Everitt, transport commissioner for Greater Manchester, said:

“It’s hugely welcome to see work underway on the new Assisted Travel Lounge at Manchester Piccadilly. Transport for Greater Manchester has been working in partnership with Network Rail and local train operators for a number of years to make public transport more accessible and this new facility will make a really positive difference to many people travelling in our region. As we build an integrated and accessible Bee Network, we look forward to more investment projects in future to make all stations across Greater Manchester accessible to all.”

Major train operators which serve Manchester Piccadilly have welcomed news of the Assisted Travel Lounge investment for their passengers, with Brandon Peat, accessibility and inclusion manager for Avanti West Coast, saying:

“We want everyone to use the railway, so it’s great news that Network Rail’s work to create this space which meets the needs of people who require assistance is now underway.

“This new lounge is the latest initiative on our route to make rail travel accessible and inclusive for all. Once complete, it will help improve the overall journey experience for disabled customers when travelling to and from Manchester.”

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