A new ‘Passenger Assistance’ app has been launched to make it easier for disabled people to request the assistance they need to make their journeys by rail.
Until now, disabled passengers had to call to book assistance which could take up to 40 minutes. Staff at stations then had a printed list each morning of assistance requirements. However, if plans change, lists could not be updated and staff end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The new app has been built by Transreport, a UK tech company focussing on accessibility and inclusion. With input from the rail companies and an Accessibility Panel, the app allows passengers to request assistance, update their profile and requirements, and review their journeys all on their phone.
The app will save passengers time as they do not need to repeat their assistance needs and details each time they call. Text to speech and screen readers are supported by the app and comes with font size options, magnification and contrast adjustment options.
For more information, and for links to download the app, visit the National Rail Enquiries website here
Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive Officer of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), said: “We want to make the railway more accessible to more people and this new app is a first step towards transforming the way disabled passengers request assistance, with greater control at their fingertips. To help all our passengers travel with confidence as restrictions ease, we’re also providing effective ventilation on trains, continued cleaning and better information about busy services to help with social distancing.”
Jay Shen, Founder and Managing Director of Transreport, said: “We’re inspired by The Social Model that says people are disabled by the world around them, not by their impairment or difference. We want to use tech to remove the barriers that make life harder for people with impairments. ‘Passenger Assistance’ makes it much easier for disabled passengers to arrange assisted travel, giving them more control and independence.”
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Returning to public transport post-lockdown, we’re presented with a unique opportunity to re-shape the transport network to ensure it works for everyone. DfT has supported and provided funding to develop this app since its earliest inception and it builds on brilliant accessibility improvements already made by the rail industry, simplifying disabled passengers’ experience of the network and ensuring staff have the right tools to assist them.”
Gemma Hope, Director of Policy at Leonard Cheshire said: “Giving people more control over their rail assistance is such an important part of inclusive travel, so we welcome this app. We look forward to hearing how disabled people find using the app day to day across the network.”
Louise Rubin, Head of Policy and Campaigns at disability charity Scope says: “The current booking process is something disabled people have told us stands in the way of them using the rail network, so it’s great to see rail operators improving the assistance booking system. This app should play an important role in simplifying the process making the assistance people need to travel much easier to book. We hope this app is the first step on a journey that will see disabled people turn up and travel whenever they want.”
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