Will Network Rail come good?

Network RailThis morning there is an article in the Guardian which suggests that Network rail will come good on many years of unmet challenges for their disabled passengers, whilst their budget is being cut in the areas concerned. So assuming that this is not a case of smoke and mirrors what would change look like? The article written by Gwyn Topham (the Guardians transport correspondent) is light on examples of what is being planned or indeed what is possible. The only specific example given was about the access by wheelchairs. This is of course a vital area and if passengers in wheelchairs can gain access with ease, then so too can buggies so a double win. Some people who would benefit from gaining access to trains by wheelchair would still be prevented from travelling due to the limits placed on them by standard toilet facilities. This is where the charity Changing Rooms has something vital to communicate with Network Rail assuming that they are listening. However wheelchair use is something that impacts around 1M people in the UK when some 12M people have a disability, many of which are hidden. A much larger number of people are affected by hearing loss. Some of these people rely on hearing aids, yet the provision of hearing loops, particularly away from ticket office counters is derisory. This becomes a particular problem in stations where there are no human operators to speak to and only regular announcements to listen out for. Only 20% of those with hearing loss do have hearing aids. This means that all of these people along with the rest of us would benefit from better sound systems on station concourses and in trains. As I have written previously, I have spent many hours trying to persuade some of the train franchises to consider better systems on their platforms as part of my work, the barrier we hit was one entirely of Network Rails making. They were simply not willing to consider new ways of working and new types of technology. This was despite the fact that all passengers apart from those who are profoundly deaf would have benefited, and that residents living near the stations would also have benefited. Let us hope this article is not just a nice to read piece, but that Network Rail are really committed to change.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Charities, Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Network Rail and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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