Calls for action on rail travel accessibility as new survey reveals huge problem


Almost one in five (18%) people with sight loss have missed or avoided rail travel due to issues of accessibility, a new survey has revealed.

A poll of people with sight loss, carried out by Guide Dogs, showed that 60% claimed stations had poor infrastructure, while almost half (47%) believed that there was a lack of proper knowledge among station staff.

And problems continue on the trains themselves, with 66% reporting problems locating an assigned seat, and 62% highlighting the difficulty of finding the toilet.

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Of those who have missed a rail journey, lack of in-station support (54%) and platform alterations (54%) were the leading reasons why, while one in ten (10%) say they have been left stranded on a platform after missing a train, a figure that rises to over a third (34%) in London.

The stress (45%) of an end-to-end rail journey is the main worry for those who say that they avoid travelling altogether, with the figure spiking considerably among younger respondents aged 16-25 (67%).

Close to a quarter (24%) of those who say they avoid taking the train admit they don’t feel comfortable travelling alone.

However close to one in five (19%) people agree they would travel by train more if services were made more accessible.

The survey concluded that, given the forecast of a twofold increase in the number of people with sight loss by 2050, there was an urgent need for government action to improve the accessibility of train travel, as promised in last year’s Inclusive Transport Strategy.   

Clive Wood, guide dog owner and engagement officer at Guide Dogs, said of the results: “Behind every missed or avoided journey is real person like me with real experiences of feeling totally left out of life.

“Whilst rail is undoubtedly one of the most complex methods of travel for someone with sight loss, there are several improvements which would make a huge difference if they could be made.

“For example, improved training and education for customer service staff at train stations and greater awareness and understanding.  

“Equally, we are calling on the Government to uphold commitments made as part of the Inclusive Transport Strategy, which sets out how they plan to create a transport system with equal access for disabled people by 2030.

“Whilst we are pleased some progress has been made over the last year, not enough has been done. Everyone with sight loss deserves to be able to travel with the same level of confidence and freedom as any other passenger and for inclusive, accessible train travel to be a reality in the future.”

Tags : accessibilityGuide Dogsrail travelsight losssurvey
Patrick Cremona

The author Patrick Cremona

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