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Creating a level playing field

The Disability Discrimination Act has brought big challenges to the rail industry, leading to millions of pound’s worth of improvements being required to make stations and rolling stock more accessible. Ed Gould looks at its impact


PAGE 32 JUNE 2010

ince the implementation of disability discrimination legislation, the rail industry, like other public services, has had to respond in new and often challenging ways

to the diverse needs of customers. According to the government’s Railways for All strategy, disabled people are particularly dependent on public transport, with 60 per cent having no car in the household. ‘But spontaneous travel is difficult for

many disabled people,’ the strategy notes. The Disability Discrimination Act

(DDA) 1995 aimed to end the discrimination that many disabled people face. This legislation was significantly extended by further regulations in 2005, which has clauses specifically centred on access to goods, facilities and services within the land- based transport industries. This went further than the disability regulations already in operation under the Railways Act of 1993. And there has been a great deal for the

industry to consider, as the definition of disability is wide. The DDA defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. However, the industry was not standing still when the legislation was passed and

already had a track record with disability access. Following privatisation, the Disabled Persons Protection Policy (DPPP) was set up by the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising to continue some work carried out by British Rail and remains in operation. The DPPP did not make disabled access available everywhere overnight but demanded that ‘reasonable alternative’ routes are made available to those with mobility problems for whom using their local station is impossible. In practical terms, this often means that

the station operator simply provides a taxi service to a larger, more accessible station. ‘There are essentially two parts to the

DPPP, the first of which is designed to set out our commitments and standards of service provision with regard to disabled people,’ explains Peter Collins, operations development manager of managed stations at Network Rail. ‘The second is the customer-facing part

and is currently being revised into a new document, which has the more meaningful title of Making Rail Accessible. This will include how we make more information available to allow passengers to plan more effectively, for instance how to book assistance and give details of the accessibility of our station facilities.’ Funding for disability access

improvements is principally sourced from

the DfT under Railways for All. The strategy ring-fenced £370m up to 2015, under a programme known as Access for All, to provide an accessible route between station entrance and platforms at DfT nominated stations. A portion of the funding is allocated for Tocs and third parties to bid for, on a matched funding basis, and is earmarked to improve the network’s information, ticketing and reservations systems, station buildings, platforms and the quality of staff training.


Gary Tordoff, Network Rail’s Access for All Programme sponsor, explains the DfT’s funding. ‘The figures are based on the view from 2004, but the overall budget has gone up with inflation and so far we’ve spent £145m,’ he told Rail Professional. ‘The DfT are now looking at phase two

of an accessibility funding stream, beyond 2015, based on Lord Adonis’ view of the industry at the moment. Forty stations have already be completed under Access for All with potentially 105 left to be done, or as many as we can within the budgetary constraints,’ he said. However, David Sindall, head of

disability and inclusion at Atoc, says that some Tocs are frustrated with the rate of progress. According to Atoc, the delivery of the Southampton Airport Parkway improvements by Southwest Trains shows that Tocs can deliver major Railways for All schemes. ‘We think more Tocs should be given the opportunity to deliver projects within the programme,’ Sindall says. Nevertheless, successful delivery of

Access for All projects requires substantial inter-industry cooperation. According to Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40
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