More than 40% of railway stations across England, Scotland and Wales do not have step-free access, leaving physically disabled people unable to travel by train.
Many disabled people also face difficulties planning travel, due to the unclear information on step-free access from National Rail, according to a new report from the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity.
Even at stations with step-free access, often a ramp is still needed to get from the platform to the train. This needs extra assistance, which is not always available, making it impossible for disabled people to travel spontaneously.
The latest findings follow research by Leonard Cheshire earlier this year that more than a third of working age disabled people have experienced problems using trains in the last year as a result of their disability.
Leonard Cheshire is campaigning for the government and rail operators to make all stations fit for use by disabled people — this includes making sure every station has step-free access from the station to the train.
The charity is calling on people across the country to write to their local rail operating providers to fulfil their duty to disabled passengers and provide step-free access at their train stations.
Neil Heslop, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, said: “Poor public transport is forcing disabled people to miss out on every day events which others take for granted — from employment opportunities to social events.
“Disabled people cannot continue to put their lives on hold. Rail operators must make it their absolute priority to ensure that their train stations have step-free access, so that all their customers can travel as they choose.”
The research carried out by Leonard Cheshire is based on data provided by Office of Rail and Road. Accessibility and mobility data available per station published on the National Rail website.
Its analysis shows that 40% of stations in England, 50% of stations in Scotland and 32% of stations in Wales do not have full step-free access available for disabled people.