Greater Anglia is pioneering new accessibility awareness training courses to help improve customer service for disabled passengers.
The company has commissioned a team of Accessibility and Inclusion trainers to deliver regular sessions over the next two years to ensure its 2,500 strong workforce feels empowered to help improve the journeys of people with accessibility needs.
The schemes means Greater Anglia has become the first operator in the country to implement accessibility courses that meet the rail regulator’s new standards.
This is ahead of new rules that come in in 2021 requiring all train operators to undertake such training.
The programme is also ‘disabled-led’ – as the sessions are all delivered by disabled trainers, after Greater Anglia commissioned consultant, Sarah Rennie, to put together a team.
The course covers meeting and greeting disabled customers and how to talk to them about their access needs, language and terminology, communication, body language, etiquette and practical examples of assisting customers with different impairments, as well as the business and legal case for why it’s important to understand the issues.
At the end of the course, delegates are invited to make an ‘Inclusion Promise’, naming one thing they plan to do differently to improve accessibility and inclusion for customers.
Commenting on the roll out, Rebecca Richardson, Greater Anglia’s accessibility manager, said: “At Greater Anglia we are really serious about doing better in this area. We want everyone to have a good journey with us, so giving our staff the skills and knowledge to always have accessibility in the forefront of their minds will help us achieve that step-change in customer service that we are seeking to provide.”
Adding: “This training is going to make a real difference for staff as it will give them more confidence when assisting disabled customers. And it will really help disabled customers with their journey experience as staff are better able to understand what they need to do in order to support somebody through their journey and to provide a good passenger experience.”
Greater Anglia has also continued to roll out its new fleet of Stadler trains which are more accessible – with lower level floors and a retractable step at each door, which aims to bridge the gap between station platform and train, making them more accessible for wheelchairs, buggies and people with mobility impairments.
They also have improved wheelchair spaces and accessible toilets on every train.
Last week, AMP reported on how 800 trains in the UK are set to fall short of an accessibility deadline.
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