Tens of thousands of railway staff are being trained to communicate more effectively with disabled passengers, understand challenges they may face and refresh existing knowledge and skills to provide any needed assistance, as part of key accessibility targets outlined by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
By the end of 2021, almost 30,000 passenger-facing railway staff will have undertaken disability awareness and equality training.
It is part of requirements set out by the ORR in their Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) Guidance.
ORR welcomed the news that strong progress was being made, which has been seen across all 24 train and station operators currently serving UK rail passengers, particularly in light of the challenges which were being felt by the pandemic.
Many of the operators are expected to meet their commitments by the end of July, with Great Western Railway having already met its targets, having trained all of its 4,600 frontline staff.
For 13 train and station operators, under the ORR’s monitoring of progress on the issue, it has led to the development of new courses to be used in staff inductions and for refresher training.
Involvement from disabled people in the development and delivery of the training, setting their own experiences of using the railway as a central focus, has further helped successful delivery of the commitments.
Eleven of the train operators have also committed to extending the training from just their passenger-facing staff to all colleagues within their organisations.
Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director, Consumers at ORR said: “ORR wants all passengers to be able to travel safely with confidence and with ease. Introducing obligations on train and station operators to provide up-to-date, regular disability awareness and equality training to their staff is part of our broad package of measures to improve the experience of disabled passengers.
“Despite our initial concerns about progress in designing and delivering compliant training packages, the picture has become much more positive over the last six months, with the process of training tens of thousands of staff now well under way.”
Neil Craig, Mobility and Inclusion Manager at Great Western Railway, added: “As lockdown is eased and people start to use the railway again, it is more important than ever that we do everything we can to ensure that the services we offer are accessible to all passengers.
“We are immensely proud to deliver this new disability awareness training, ensuring that all of our helpful and friendly frontline staff, have the knowledge and training required to give customers with disabilities the time, support and assistance that they require."