Rail operators could face penalties over poor disabled access

 

Rail passengers with disabilities could be entitled to financial compensation from train operators for poor quality booked assistance under plans being considered by industry regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

The system, which would parallel the current availability of payments for service delays, featured in the ORR's recent consultation on assisted travel improvements that ended in February.

”Local

A technical problem with processing responses has delayed publication of the results, but spokesperson Simon Belgard told Transport Network that 'we are working to do so as soon as possible'.

Other proposals include that staff training should actively involve people with disabilities, with refresher courses held at least every two years, and standardised passenger handover routines to ensure continuity of support at all mainline stops, to be backed up by improved inter-station communications.

Recent analysis has shown that the quality of assistance for people alighting passengers is currently poorer than that for those who are boarding.

One issue that was not covered in the consultation involves the availability of ticket types. Last month, operator Greater Anglia was forced to amend a web campaign that proclaimed 'the end of weekly paper tickets' from 1 May 2019.

This followed a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority from the Anglia Rail Users Group, acting on behalf of a blind commuter travelling with a guide dog, who also claimed that faregates didn't always recognise his disabled person's smartcard.

The operator has apologised and confirmed the continuing availability of paper tickets for those that need them, as required by the Government. It also said that staff are available to help people with disabilities when entering or leaving stations.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) eastern region campaigns officer, Michael Wordingham, who is himself sight-impaired, told Transport Network: 'lt's imortant for there to be as many ways as possible for people to buy tickets. If paper ones mean less anxiety for people with disabilities, they should be able to have them.'

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