Last week I got caught up in the travel chaos on the Brighton Mainline due to a signaling failure in Purley, it led to the journey to Victoria taking three-hours. When I arrived at my destination where I was due to give a talk on the technology behind ‘hearing loops’ late arrival meant that my talk had been moved from the beginning of the CAE conference to the end. This however enabled me to listen to experts in other areas of provision for people impacted by disability. Because of the journey I had experienced, I was particularly aware of the other references to train travel. We heard about the lack of understanding by Network Rail to issues of Light Reflective Value (LRV) and the colours and designs they could use to improve the travel experience of all of us, but particularly people with visual impairments. To be fair they were not alone in their ignorance and in some cases disregard for people travelling on their trains. We also heard about the Changing Places scheme which provides fully accessible toilets. Several of these are being installed in railway stations and at Motorway Services across the country. However my 3 hour Journey on the Brighton line would have required that such facilities would be required on the train, not at the station. For my own part I know that the Audio Frequency Induction Loops fitted in stations, whilst excellent at the ticket offices, are woefully inadequate on station concourses, where they are fitted. The ones in Eastbourne station rely on the person with a hearing aid being immediately adjacent to the poles which hold up the roof! Any more than a foot or two away and the loop itself is ineffective. It is clear that there is a lot more that needs to be done to improve the travelling experience for many people.
Since last week I have discovered that researchers from Southampton University are gathering data on accessible transport. To take part either go on line or phone 07847228394 to leave a message and a researcher will call you back. Alternatively write to Jim Morey Transport Research Group, University of Southampton SO17 1BJ