Disabled rail passengers across Britain will benefit from better access at stations thanks to a £300 million government investment and newly accessible stations will open up routes across the country.
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The Department for Transport writes:
Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani has announced that over the next 5 years journeys will be opened up across Britain as upgrades, including footbridges and lifts, make it easier for disabled people to travel on the UK’s rail network. Several other stations will also see smaller scale improvements such as tactile paving on platform edges or adjustable ticket counters, to allow disabled passengers to travel with confidence.
The improvements at 73 stations will be funded as part of the Department for Transport’s Inclusive Transport Strategy, published last year. The funding will also benefit those with health conditions or older people with impairments, along with people travelling with children, heavy luggage or shopping.
Transport Accessibility Minister Nusrat Ghani said on 4 April 2019: ‘Transport is vital for connecting people with work, friends and family, but also to enable them to enjoy visiting some of the wonderful cultural, historical and natural sites across the UK. We want the 13.9 million disabled people in Britain to be empowered to travel independently, which is why I am delighted to announce this roll out of upgrades across the rail network. Over the next 5 years these newly accessible stations will open up routes across the country, helping us move closer to a transport sector that is truly accessible.’
Following nominations from the rail industry, stations were selected based on a range of criteria including footfall weighted by disability in the area, value for money, and local factors such as proximity to a hospital. The stations were also chosen to represent a fair geographical spread across the country. The Access for All programme was first launched in 2006 and has delivered more than 200 accessible routes into selected stations so far. A further 1,500 stations have received smaller scale improvements such as accessible toilets, platform humps to reduce stepping distances and improvements to help those with a visual or hearing impairment.
Keith Richards, Chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, said: ‘The Access for All programme has already delivered significant improvements in access to rail travel for disabled people over the last 13 years. It’s crucial to continually build on that. The announcement is very welcome and must go hand-in-hand with clear and practical information to ensure that disabled people are aware of what improvements have been made, and that more travel options are now possible as a result. We are working with the government to deliver a commitment to accelerate improvements, to target the funding effectively, and to monitor and assess outcomes.’
This is a step towards the target set out in the Inclusive Transport Strategy to create a transport system that offers equal access by 2030 and to make travel easier for disabled people. A genuinely inclusive transport system – including the design of all future transport technologies – is central to this government’s mission to build a country that works for everyone and forms a crucial part of the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge which will put the UK at the forefront of transport innovation.