New pressure on rail firms to invest in better access

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There is new pressure on rail operators to improve disabled access after a Conservative thinktank argued that operators who fail to meet access standards should have their franchises stripped.

The thinktank’s point on disabled rail access is one of around 70 recommendations surrounding discrimination and rights published in the Bright Blue report.

According to the Bright Blue report, the Government ought to set minimum requirements for access at railway stations and on board trains. This would include step-free access, staff at stations, audio announcements and visual display boards. The report said that in 2015, the Papworth Trust found that 79% of train stations in England still do not meet these criteria.

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Bright Blue wants these requirements written into rail operator agreements and implied that companies failing to meet them could lose their franchises.

All companies should also be encouraged to employ people with disabilities by scrapping employers national insurance for workers if they earn less than £850 a week.

The Bright Blue report is the latest pressure to be piled onto rail operators regarding access and it is hoped that as calls for better access grow louder companies will be forced to invest in more solutions and installations.

The report, looking to improve access in all areas, also recommended that buildings being converted into dwellings are required to meet the requirements set out by M4(1) of the building regulations to make reasonable provisions for most disabled people.

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