Ac­ces­si­bil­ity must im­prove, say pas­sen­gers

Rail (UK) - - Network News -

Ac­ces­si­bil­ity for pas­sen­gers with lim­ited mo­bil­ity must im­prove in the next Great Western fran­chise, say pas­sen­gers and stake­hold­ers in their re­sponses to the Great Western fran­chise con­sul­ta­tion. They pointed out that just over half of Great Western Rail­way (GWR) sta­tions have ‘ad­e­quate’ step-free ac­cess to plat­forms, and con­cerns were also ex­pressed about Driver Only Op­er­a­tion at un­staffed sta­tions. A need for greater staff train­ing was also high­lighted.

The DfT says it is con­sid­er­ing re­plac­ing the Mi­nor Works Bud­get in the cur­rent fran­chise with an ‘ap­pro­pri­ately sized’ Ac­ces­si­bil­ity Im­prove­ment Fund. This could be used to fund a wider range of ac­ces­si­bil­ity im­prove­ments than at present, and FirstGroup is tasked with ex­plain­ing how it will im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity, mea­sure the qual­ity of ser­vice to dis­abled pas­sen­gers, in­volve them in tak­ing de­ci­sions on mat­ters which af­fect them and demon­strate how it will pro­vide bet­ter train­ing to staff.

Ac­ces­si­bil­ity also fea­tured heav­ily in re­sponses to fu­ture sta­tion im­prove­ment, as did an em­pha­sis on the need for bet­ter ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties to be pro­vided at smaller sta­tions, more ticket fa­cil­i­ties at smaller sta­tions, the need for sta­tion staff and a de­sire to see un­used sta­tion build­ings made avail­able for pub­lic and com­mu­nity use.

The DfT says it “sees merit” in a more flex­i­ble ap­proach to im­prove­ments which al­lows de­ci­sions to be taken within the fran­chise on sta­tion up­grades. It says a sta­tion im­prove­ment fund could help to achieve this but that suit­able gov­er­nance would be needed to en­sure in­vest­ment was spread across the fran­chise area and is tar­geted on the schemes which best sup­port the fran­chise ob­jec­tives.

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