Paralympian Andy Barrow will lead a new panel to review and improve accessibility on Southeastern trains, the rail operator has announced.
A variety of new measures will be introduced in 2021 and have been designed to improve the experience for passengers with a disability or mobility issue.
All of the improvements are part of Southeastern’s new Accessible Travel Policy that has been approved by the Office of Rail and Road.
Approximately 11% of rail passengers say that have some form of disability, but thanks to improvements in the last 25 years, most of these can still travel unaided and without booking assistance.
Amongst the new improvements are:
- A new specially trained Mobile Assistant that will provide extra help for passengers getting onto trains and at unstaffed stations.
- A brand new Southeastern App will be launched allowing assistance to be booked for Southeastern trains as well as automatic updates on toilet and lift availability.
- A network-wide rollout of the Sunflower Lanyards and Just a Minute (JAM) cards to let passengers tell staff discreetly that they have a non-visual disability.
- A new disability awareness programme for Southeastern’s 4500 staff.
- From April, passengers will be able to book assistance up to six hours before a journey, and from April 2022, this will be reduced to 2 hours.
Southeastern Passenger Services Director, David Wornham said: “We are committed to providing a safe and comfortable journey for everyone and I’m very proud of the new measures we are putting in place to support that aim. Throughout the Covid-19 crisis Southeastern, along with the rest of the rail industry, has kept vital train services running for everyone who had to travel for work, education, shopping, or medical appointments. As we start to come out of the lockdown restrictions and passenger numbers pick up we want to be sure that we are doing everything we can to make our services equally accessible to everyone in the communities we serve.”
Andy Barrow, Triple Paralympian, Access Consultant and Chair of Southeastern’s Passenger Accessibility Panel said: “I’m passionate about people with any kind of impairment having full parity when using the rail network. I’ve been working closely with Southeastern to help their staff empathise with the day to day challenges that people can experience when travelling by train. Our new accessibility panel will also improve understanding when it comes to the assistance needs of their customers. So when we act on our findings the changes we make will have a lasting and meaningful impact.”
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