Disability charity Leonard Cheshire is calling for the government to prioritise efforts to improve the accessibility of the UK’s train stations.
A new study by the charity has revealed a number of facts that illuminate the current failure to provide accessible rail travel for disabled people in Britain.
It said that across the UK, 41% of train stations are not step-free.
With such a high proportion of railway stations not step-free, Leonard Cheshire estimated that the government will not meet its 2030 goal of providing step-free access across the whole country.
So far behind are the government in achieving this goal that Leonard Cheshire forecasted that the government will not reach the goal until 2070, 40 years after the goal’s initial target.
Elsewhere, the research showed that 51,000 disabled individuals have turned down a job offer due to a lack of accessibility on the railway.
Economic modelling showed that subsequent benefits to the Exchequer would be as much as £900m if all 51,000 found work, with a potential output (GVA) boost of £2.5bn.
Meanwhile, an estimated £4.3bn is needed for creating step-free access to platform level for disabled people across the rail network, the equivalent to a single year of spending on High Speed 2.
Gemma Hope, Leonard Cheshire’s director of policy, said: “These findings reinforce the need for investment in railway station infrastructure.
“It is a simple issue of equality that is even more relevant as we remain in an economic crisis for the foreseeable future.
“We have revealed a clear link between accessible rail and job opportunities for disabled people that will boost the economy and improve lives.”