The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published “significant” revisions to its Disabled People’s Protection Policy (DPPP), to make the railway more accessible.
Described as wide-ranging, the reformed guidance will give train and station operators the information and direction they need to ensure that greater quality, consistency and reliability is delivered in terms of assisted travel for disabled passengers.
These are the core fundamentals of the DPPP; reforms are necessary because the evidence-led review from the ORR has found new insight into longstanding problems – specifically the industry systems and processes – that contribute to undermining the ability of railway staff to deliver assisted travel with consistency expected.
This is despite the fact that the vast majority of disabled passengers say they get the help they need and are satisfied with the service received.
However, through extensive passenger research, the input from disability groups, as well as industry experts, the new insight means that changes will be made to the DPPP.
As a result, the ORR will consult on a range of proposals to improve the service for disabled passengers.
These include an increase to the reliability of assistance for disabled passengers through a new standardised handover process in all mainline stations in Great Britain.
Elsewhere, accessible journey planning will be improved by standardising key accessibility information on facilities, step-free access and staffing to provide an accurate picture of what disabled passengers can receive at each station.
The notice period for booking assistance will be reduced; all train companies will be required to provide compensation to passengers who don’t receive the necessary assistance; and staff training will be strengthened.
It adds to the initiatives being developed to improve rail journeys for disabled passengers, and Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director of Consumer Affairs at the ORR, commented.
“Assisted travel is a vital service that should offer disabled people the opportunity to travel with ease.
“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.”