Northern’s accessibility fund is intended to allow communities to make decisions that will improve the railway for everyone. The fund is a first for the UK rail industry, and the successful bids were chosen by the independent Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG) and supported by Northern.
“Better Journeys by Rail” aims to reduce the social isolation of people living in the region, and improve their wellbeing, by helping them to access their local train services. This includes providing travel tips, up-to-date travel information, and helping them to apply for concessionary travel passes and journey assist cards.
The scheme also runs travel training sessions that include up to five sessions of one-to-one support to plan and make a train journey. The service is free for people over 50, those with disabilities, and anyone in need of extra support with mobility and confidence recovery post-Covid.
Grants of up to £50,000 have been granted to each of 13 projects which will fund station improvements. These include fitting handrails, ramps, and automatic doors, as well as schemes to encourage those with visible and invisible disabilities to use public transport.
Mark Powles, Commercial and Customer Director at Northern, said: “Our customers are the heart of everything we do, and we are dedicated to making Northern’s services accessible to everyone, and to having a positive impact for the north.
“This scheme will give people in South Yorkshire added confidence when using our services.
“The accessibility fund is part of our wider project to transform our network and encourage people to use public transport – no matter their circumstances.”
Lizzie Davies, Better Journeys By Rail Project Coordinator said: “We are really happy to have partnered with Northern on this important project, supporting people in the South Yorkshire region regain their confidence and rediscover their local train services.
“We know how difficult many people have found the past few years, and with this project, we hope to support people to get out and about again, and to encourage the use of public transport to foster healthier and more sustainable communities. “