The UK government has launched a £20m (€22.25m) fund for measures to support disabled rail passengers by improving accessibility at stations.
The fund was announced yesterday, 8 July, which marked the anniversary of the launch of the UK government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy. In the last year the strategy has seen a raft of measures aimed at boosting accessibility for disabled rail passengers and other travellers, including providing step-free access to an increased number of stations in the UK and supporting wider provision of disabled toilets at motorway service stations.
Accessibility Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “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.”
The new funding will be made available to stations across the UK to aid them in integrating small scale accessibility enhancements to improve the experience of disabled rail passengers. Recommended improvements include tactile pavements to aid visually impaired users, handrails; and Harrington Humps, which increase the height of platforms to make it easier for disabled passengers to get on and off trains.
John Welsman, Policy Business Partner at the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, said: “Guide Dogs welcomes the additional funding as independent train travel is a real challenge for people living with sight loss. Elements like tactile paving on platform edges and steps, better signage, improved lighting and colour contrast will make stations easier to negotiate confidently and more safely. However, train travel is still a very complex environment for people with sight loss and we will continue to work to find solutions so that no one with sight loss is left out of life.”