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Trains are one of the best ways to travel in the UK and can bring many advantages over other methods, such as speed, convenience, reliability, comfort and sustainability. Despite this, there are many people in the disabled community that do not use the train because it is not the most accessible form of travel.
Photo by Tobias Reich on Unsplash
This is problematic because accessible travel is so important yet it can be challenging for those with a wide range of disabilities because most forms of public transportation are not as accessible as they should be. So, what can be done to make trains more accessible? Read on to find out.
Make Train Stations Accessible
The main area that needs addressing is not the trains themselves but the train stations with more than 40% of UK stations not being accessible to physically disabled people. Train stations can be complex and hard to navigate because you need to be able to reach different platforms which will involve getting up, across and down which poses a big problem for those with disabilities, plus they can also be busy and chaotic which only makes it harder.
This is why all train stations need to look to make their platforms more accessible whether this includes using elevators, ramps, wheelchair friendly bridges or any other solution.
Wivelsfield Leading the Way
There are some stations that are taking action to make their platforms more accessible, such as Wivelsfield station which is performing a refurb costing £1 million. This will see the station benefit from step-free access improvements with the use of a lift that can make it easy for an individual in a wheelchair to access the station, platforms and the street without having to navigate stairs.
Staff & Online Bookings
In addition to creating step-free access, train stations also need to make sure that there are always staff on hand that can help those that need it to get to the platform and on to the train. In addition to the physical challenges, many people with disabilities find it stressful and can get nervous when trying to use public transport but this can be alleviated when there are people there to help.
It is also helpful if people are able to prebook their tickets online, such as a train travelling to Bexhill, so that they do not have to do this at the station which can add more stress and take time.
A lot of work needs to be done to make train travel more accessible for all, especially when travel can be so challenging and stressful for the disabled community.
Some really thought provoking points raised here Jenny x
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to accessibility. Many public transit trains, buses, and stations are not set up to accommodate those who are blind, deaf, autistic, etc either!
If only contractors would build these places with disability access in mind, then they wouldn’t need to later undergo years of renovations and waste so much money on something that should have been there from the start.
Thanks for helping to bring attention to such an important issue.
Sorry to hear of this dilemma. I’ve learned about the mobility issues of disabled by pushing around my 93 year old mother. I imagine that I might be looking at myself in 20 years.
My Nan travels down to Essex (from Birmingham) about twice a year on the train and she’s hard of hearing so she struggles quite a lot when travelling so always makes sure to book assistance when before her date of travel so theres always someone to help her on her train and then off, but if she didn’t prebook this there would more often than not be any help at the station of on hand staff to help which is really sad!