Work to build an inclusive and accessible Assisted Travel Lounge at Manchester Piccadilly station for disabled passengers has begun.
Network Rail is investing £800,000 to transform a disused room near platform one into a quiet and welcoming waiting space for people with additional mobility and sensory needs, served by a dedicated team of staff to help them.
It will include:
- Accessible seating and seven wheelchair bays
- An accredited Changing Places toilet facility*
- A sensory space for people who find stations overwhelming
- A staffed welcome desk
- A water bowl for service dogs
Work to build the lounge has started today and will be complete by the New Year.
It’s been designed with the guidance of Manchester Piccadilly’s disability task and finish group.
This includes disabled people, their carers and advocates, to ensure the space meets the needs of those who’ll use it.
Maisie Hogan, Network Rail sponsor for the project, said: “Travelling through a busy railway station can be daunting for disabled passengers, but the new Assisted Travel Lounge will provide a friendly space for people to wait and get the help they need from a dedicated team. It will transform the way passengers access rail travel at Manchester Piccadilly.”
Stephen Brookes MBE, rail policy adviser at Disability Rights UK, said: “In the post Covid recovery of the rail industry we have seen a substantial increase in journeys by disabled passengers. We therefore welcome the provision of a new fully fitted Assisted Travel Lounge at Piccadilly which will make rail travel a more relaxed, less intimidating experience for anyone with disabilities.
“We are particularly pleased that Network rail closely cooperated with our pan disability reference group in the final design of the facility.”
Vernon Everitt, transport commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “It’s hugely welcome to see work underway on the new Assisted Travel Lounge at Manchester Piccadilly. Transport for Greater Manchester has been working in partnership with Network Rail and local train operators for a number of years to make public transport more accessible and this new facility will make a really positive difference to many people travelling in our region. As we build an integrated and accessible Bee Network, we look forward to more investment projects in future to make all stations across Greater Manchester accessible to all.”
Assisted travel is offered to all passengers who need help getting between trains and the station concourse.
So far this year, the service has been used for over 31,000 journeys. Last year, the figure was nearly 22,300. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the figure was around 44,500.
For more information on how to book assisted travel visit: www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/passengers/planning-a-trip/assisted-travel/
Major train operators which serve Manchester Piccadilly have welcomed news of the Assisted Travel Lounge investment for their passengers.
Brandon Peat, accessibility and inclusion manager for Avanti West Coast, said: “We want everyone to use the railway, so it’s great news that Network Rail’s work to create this space which meets the needs of people who require assistance is now underway.
“This new lounge is the latest initiative on our route to make rail travel accessible and inclusive for all. Once complete, it will help improve the overall journey experience for disabled customers when travelling to and from Manchester.”
Kathryn O’Brien, customer experience director for TransPennine Express said: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and we want all to travel in a safe and comfortable environment. The new Assisted Travel Lounge underlines this commitment and will provide a pleasant space for customers, allowing them to access any help they need or to wait for their train in a calm and safe space. The lounge is a great step in making rail travel even more accessible.”
Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern said: “This is a fantastic project that will make a real difference to our customers. It will complement our work to transform our network and encourage people to use public transport – no matter their circumstances.”
John Robson, CrossCountry’s regional director West Midlands and North West, said: “The building of this lounge is a great step to offering those that need assistance a place that feels safe and secure in what can be a busy and overwhelming environment. Once the space is opened we hope our customers will make full use of the facilities, building on a better overall journey experience.”
This work compliments the recently refurbished lift that provides step-free access to platforms 13 and 14 at the station.
Photo credit: Network Rail