As today (3 Nov) marks Purple Tuesday 2020, an initiative that aims to improve the customer experience for disabled people, Rail and Accessible Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris has given a statement detailing the progress on DfT’s Inclusive Transport Strategy.
The strategy, which was first published back in 2018, sets out a determined programme for developing our transport system, and today Heaton-Harris announced the publication of a progress report detailing what has been delivered in the past 12 months.
Momentous progress has been made by DfT in the past 12 months. Such as further raising awareness of passenger rights and enforcement of these by working with Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
DfT has also implemented better staff training. For example, for all future rail franchises, it is a requirement that train operation companies should have at least one person accountable for accessibility at board level and one person at an operational level to guarantee inclusive transport is embedded into the service provided.
Train operators such as Great Western Railway, London North Eastern Railway and Greater Anglia have already begun delivering training packages that include insight and accounts from disabled people or representatives from organisations, to allow for a better understanding of what they require when travelling on the railways.
Information and awareness has also been improved. A large part of this was led by Rail Delivery Group, who in 2019 launched a digital map that showed accessibility information for all stations on the rail network. Between March and July 2019, more than 24,000 people logged in and accessed the map.
The Access for All programme comes under the inclusive physical infrastructure element. The programme is hoped to be extended to 2024 with an additional £300 million of funding, opening up leisure and business rail travel opportunities for disabled passengers.
The report for the last twelve months concluded by saying research would continue to be commissioned into the travelling experience of disabled passengers and identifying the challenges inhibiting disabled passengers from using the rail network.
Chris Heaton-Harris closed his statement by saying: “I am grateful to the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee and representatives of disabled peoples’ organisations who continue to hold both myself and the DfT to account for the delivery of the Inclusive Transport Strategy, and I look forward to continuing to work with them as the strategy enters its third year.”