Working in partnership with London TravelWatch

Transport User Voice – March 2020 – Accessible Travel Policies

27 February 2020

Our joint work with London TravelWatch 

Over the last few months we’ve been working with London TravelWatch to submit joint reviews of the Office of Rail and Road’s Accessible Travel Policies.

As key stakeholders, both London TravelWatch and Transport Focus review these policies to make sure they are welcoming, informative and clear for passengers. In the past this has been done separately by each organisation; we hoped that by working together our combined comments would carry more clout.

We gave feedback on:

  • whether the documents have an appropriate tone
  • if they provide positive encouragement for disabled people to travel by train
  • the clarity of language used and picking out specific areas for improvement.

We have also been highlighting examples of good practice.

Each operator across Great Britain requires an operating licence issued by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). As part of that licence, the operator is required to establish and comply with an Accessible Travel Policy, stating how it will protect the interests of disabled users of its trains and stations. This includes Network Rail which runs some of the busiest stations on the rail network, such as London Waterloo.

Whereas the Disabled Persons Protection Policies had to be updated annually, the new policies will typically only need to be updated where there is evidence to suggest they are not being implemented appropriately or where ORR considers a material change has been made without approval.

The policies provide operators with an opportunity to set out commitments and standards of service provision at each stage of the journey. This means before passengers travel, whilst they are at the station and when they are on the train. This includes detail on how passengers can book assistance, what that assistance covers and what service passengers can expect to receive if they ‘turn up and go’ at a station. This is both at staffed and unstaffed stations. Importantly the documents also provide detail on what to expect if things do not go to plan. The policy documents go into greater detail on a number of issues such as what disability awareness and equality training is provided to staff and how the company intends to work with disabled passengers to improve their experience of travelling by rail. They also provide detail on the accessibility of the stations and trains themselves.

Each operator has to have both a policy document and passenger leaflet signed off by the ORR. Before it is signed off Transport Focus has an opportunity to provide feedback on both documents.

More detail on the policy guidance issued to operators by the ORR can be found here. It explains what an approved Accessible Travel Policy must contain and good practice that operators ‘may’ choose to follow.

In future, we hope that the Accessible Travel Policies can be more uniform and consistent. All train companies participate in the Passenger Assist system, but too often the policies and leaflets make it seem as if each train company has a different system.

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