The Northern Accessibility Innovation Scheme is dedicated to opening opportunities for disabled and older passengers across the network and has now extended its deadline for a £250,000 scheme launched last month, with applications until Tuesday 3rd January 2023.
The programme is seeking proposals from organisations, stakeholders, community groups and charities for projects that can enhance the passenger experience and make a positive difference for communities across the North of England.
The funds from this programme will be awarded across a number of categories, seeing on project receiving the lion’s share of £100k, several others awarded £50k and smaller projects receiving a maximum of £10k.
Mark Powles, customer, and commercial 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.”
Following the success of projects that were brought to life through the scheme in 2020/21, the second iteration of the scheme will once again be led and overseen by the Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG). Over the last 12 months, the programme saw the delivery of numerous schemes that improved accessibility for all, across West and South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, and Cumbria.
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 is a pan disability user group, whose membership represents a wide range of disabilities on a personal basis and will be working side by side with Northern to ensure the initiatives success.
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.”
The 2023 iteration of the scheme could see innovations designed to make travel simpler and easier, whilst raising the awareness of rail services and how it can encourage passengers back to the sector. 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
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