Following a £20 million government fund, a series of accessibility improvements designed to open up journeys for disabled passengers will be made to UK railway stations. The fund will be open for applications from stations in need of accessibility improvements, leading to small-scale enhancements such as tactile paving, handrails and Harrington Humps, which increase platform heights.
Part of the strategy includes the launch of a £2 million fund to bring Changing Places accessible toilets to more motorway service areas. Moreover, a guidance was issued to local authorities in England for extending the Blue Badge scheme.
“While many take for granted the ability to travel easily from A to B, access for the fifth of people who identify as disabled can be far from straightforward. We want disabled people to travel easily, confidently and without extra cost, which is why it is fantastic to be opening this fund today. I look forward to seeing what ideas the industry has for accessibility improvements as we work towards a more inclusive rail network,” said Nusrat Ghani, Accessibility Minister.
The fund follows the announcement in April that 73 stations will benefit from accessible routes to and between every platform, as part of the government’s £300 million Access for All fund.
The Access for All programme was launched in 2006 and has so far delivered more than 200 accessible routes into stations along with smaller scale improvements at a further 1,500 stations.
Previous projects funded through the programme include the installation of accessible toilets at 18 stations – including a Changing Places toilet at London Paddington – and a new footbridge and four lifts installed at St Neots Station, Cambridgeshire.
The government is also proposing a number of measures to be delivered in partnership with industry to improve the flying experience for disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility as part of its Aviation 2050 Strategy.
“This new investment in small scale accessibility improvements at stations is a welcome move to help rail passengers with disabilities travel freely and with greater confidence on the network. We know that many disabled travellers report receiving a good service, but that there is still a long way to go until people with disabilities have full access to trains and station facilities. The rail industry and their staff must now get behind all the changes required to deliver the more accessible network of stations promised,” said Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus.