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East West Rail’s accessibility panel lists priority issues for disabled passengers

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East West Railway Company’s (EWR) Accessibility Advisory Panel (AAP) has drawn up a list of priority issues for train companies to address to ensure the varying needs of disabled people are fully met.

With latest figures showing that nearly one in four (24%) of people in the UK is disabled, the AAP has highlighted key areas for improvement that address the needs of disabled people to be considered early in the design and construction stages so East West Rail (EWR) can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone.
The “must-haves” identified by the panel, which held its first meeting one year ago this month (17 April 2023) are focused on trains, stations and digital services. They include:

• Accessible toilets on trains and at stations, including Changing Places toilets
• Step free access to and through stations, including lifts, for people with mobility aids
• Level, unassisted boarding with minimal intervention
• Making timetables, information boards and social media content accessible for all
• Removing ticket barriers for disabled people, creating ease of access to the platform
• Removing the need to use an app to park – make displaying a Blue Badge sufficient
• Providing space on trains for two wheelchair users to travel together
• Making lighting more suitable for people with low vision
• Improving access to station staff who regularly receive disability training
• Providing a wide variety of seating styles with armrests

The AAP was set up in advance of trains operating on the first stage of EWR, from Oxford to Bletchley, in 2025 with panel members providing insights on the barriers to rail travel faced by local communities along the route and potential solutions to challenging issues.

The Panel is thought to be the first of its kind considering these issues in design at the outset of building a new railway and members believe it will help EWR Co deliver a truly accessible railway.

Georgina Taylor, head of customer service delivery at EWR, said: “We are determined to make sure that all customers have a fantastic experience by building a railway that meets different physical and mobility needs, as well as mental wellbeing and neurodiversity. The AAP’s priority issues list will help us better understand barriers to travel and how to overcome them, enabling us to be a beacon for inclusive rail design.”

Image credit: EWR

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