The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has proposed 'much needed' reforms to the Disabled People's Protection Policy covering assisted travel for disabled rail passengers.
ORR said systems and processes currently in place 'too often undermine the ability of staff to delivery assisted travel, with the consistency passengers expect', following a review informed by passengers disability groups and industry experts.
Among the proposals being consulted on is a change in the notice period for booking assistance. This is currently up to 24 hours before travel.
ORR have outlined three options for passengers; booking by 10pm the night before travel; booking a minimum of six hours before travel; and booking a minimum of two hours before travel.
Other key proposals include:
- Greater accountability for assistance provision with a new standardised handover process for all GB mainline stations and new arrangements to strengthen communication between stations
- Standardising key station accessibility information on facilities, step-free access and staffing
- Ensure all train companies provide compensation to passengers if they do not receive the assistance they have booked.
- Standardise and improve information for passengers including a more concise passenger leaflet.
- The Rail Delivery Group should promote assisted travel to the people who would benefit from the service but do not currently travel by rail.
- Strengthen train and station operators’ staff training including involving disabled people in its delivery and requiring staff to have refresher training at least every two years.
Stephanie Tobyn, deputy director, consumer affairs at the ORR, said: 'Our proposed reforms are a much needed change to the current guidance that was written in 2009.
'Much has changed since then and while there has been good practice, this often has not gone far or fast enough. We recognise the potential cost of changes and that they may take time to put in place, but we are ambitious in our vision of a more accessible railway for all.'