The Department for Transport (DfT) is offering £600,000 worth of grants to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), universities, charities, infrastructure managers or train operating companies whose innovative ideas will make a difference to the lives of disabled passengers travelling on the railway.
The competition is backed by the rail industry and disability groups and follows the launch of the public consultation into the DfT’s draft Accessibility Action Plan in August aimed at removing barriers for millions of disabled people to be able to travel independently and confidently.
The competition is open to any organisations or individuals and is expected to provide grant funding to the winners ranging from £25k to £150k to develop their ideas.
The competition focuses on two themes. Firstly, innovative solutions for improving physical access to and at stations, which might include improved access to facilities contained within the station or ensuring spaces within stations better accommodate the needs of disabled people.
Secondly, a focus on novel approaches to improving access to rail for people with less visible impairments such as mental health issues, spinal injuries or people with sensory and cognitive impairments.
“I am delighted to launch this competition which will help us make our railways accessible to everyone, whether they have a physical disability or one which is less visible,” said Rail Minister Paul Maynard.
“This is something I personally feel very strongly about and I am determined to remove the barriers for millions with a disability, giving them the right to travel independently and with confidence.”