The idea of British trains being late is hardly new and indeed living in Brighton it is not a joke. However many of the delays are fairly laid at the door of the train operators. The extent to which Network Rail can be legitimately implicated in such circumstances is often no more than a suspicion. However if a train ran 15 months late it would not be a joke and questions would certainly be asked at a senior level. I am certain my own blog will not achieve the same level of interest but the issue is just as shocking. Two days ago the Network Rail account on LinkedIn published an invitation to join a Network Rail Built Environment Accessibility Panel. According to the invitation the organisation is looking for volunteers with accessibility expertise to join the panel. The panel appears to be one that is really vital, it is intended to help make sure any major building works, stations designs and our other amenities across the UK are accessible and as inclusive as possible. Membership of the panel will be voluntary. A small meeting allowance, travel and expenses will be paid. Members of the panel will be trained in the Government Railway Investment Panel (GRIP) project plan and reading drawings.
According to the invitation two individuals are sought. It is this very limited number of spaces which helped to form part of the title of my blog. Disability and limited access impacts different people in very different ways. It is not even a requirement to have personal experience of one of the many access barriers. If they are serious about improving access to stations they need to listen to many more than two token voices. My own view based on professional experience is that Network Rail is robustly impervious to new ideas which would improve the sound quality of announcements on station platforms. Such improvements would be of assistance to all passengers, but particularly those with visual impairments. I also know that many of the smaller stations have very limited facilities for travellers who have a hearing impairments. The solution for both of these is to ensure that Network Rail and the train operators have a much more open design and procurement process than at present . However none of this relates to the issue of the 15 months delay which I have referred to. It appears that to be considered for this panel one needs to apply by February 2014, or else they might mean for us to apply in time for February 2020?