New accessibility regulations coming into play at the end of next year will cost one train provider around £50m in upgrades to nine of its High Speed Trains (HST).
That’s according to a report by railway industry news outlet, Rail, which heard from the company that owns the HSTs, Poterbrook, who said it will need to invest in access solutions for 76 coaches.
The upgrades are necessary to ensure that the company operating the nine HSTs, East Midlands Trains, complies with new Persons with Reduced Mobility Technical Specification for Interoperability (PRM TSI) regulations.
A Department for Transport spokesman told Rail that it takes the issue of accessibility on its railways “extremely seriously”.
“It is vital that all passengers have the same opportunities to travel, and we will continue to push train companies on this matter.
“All owners and operators of trains on the national network know that they must meet modern accessibility standards by the end of 2019, and we are working with East Midlands Trains to look at a range of possible options for meeting these requirements on the route before the bi-modes are introduced.”
In October the Department for Transport (DfT) announced £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.