Northern, the UK-based train operating company, has taken a significant step towards enhancing accessibility for all passengers by appointing an experienced accessibility campaigner to lead its independent user group.
The primary focus of this group is to empower individuals to access and utilise public transport services, regardless of their circumstances.
Mark Cutter, hailing from Lancaster, has been chosen as the new chair of Northern's Accessibility User Group (NAUG), a position that reflects his longstanding commitment to advocating for accessible transportation solutions.
Cutter has been an active member of NAUG since its inception, and his appointment underscores Northern's dedication to prioritising the needs of passengers with disabilities.
NAUG, a pan-disability user group, encompasses a diverse membership base that directly represents a broad spectrum of disabilities, both from a personal standpoint and through the perspectives of disability-focused organisations.
This inclusive approach ensures that the group's efforts align closely with the needs and expectations of the various communities served by Northern. Northern was recognised for its approach to accessible travel in April 2023, receiving an award for Inclusivity at the Innovation and Transformation Awards.
The appointment of Mark Cutter as chair not only acknowledges his valuable contributions to NAUG and signals Northern's unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive and accessible public transport system.
Under Cutter's leadership, the group is poised to continue its essential work in championing the rights and requirements of passengers with disabilities, striving to make public transport a more welcoming and accommodating experience for everyone.
Matt Wilson, accessibility manager at Northern, said: “Mark's expertise in accessibility as well as his well-established relationships with the NAUG members and our own accessibility team will ensure his time as chair is productive and progressive, and we are looking forward to Mark moving into his new role at the end of the month.
“Since launching three years ago NAUG has played a vital role in supporting Northern's accessibility strategy and has offered a lived-experience-of-disability perspective to many of our projects.”
Mark has worked as an accessibility advisor for Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Trains. He was also recently appointed as chair of the rail accessibility for the north multi-operator and Network Rail joint panel.
He said: “I am really excited to be joining Northern in this role. Embedding lived experience expertise in the rail industry will improve the travel experience for all passengers.
“I have lived experience of physical disability, mental ill-health and neurodiversity and we will take a pan-disability approach to accessibility and inclusion.
“However, I believe accessible travel is about much more than disability. As a critical friend, I will work collaboratively to challenge Northern, and the wider industry, to think differently about the way we travel.”