October 11, 2018
According to the Rail Delivery Group, a new smartphone app for assisting passengers with disabilities is set to be launched next year.
The ‘life-changing’ app will update station staff on a passenger’s location at any given time, allowing them to react accordingly to delays, cancellations or platform changes.
“Although passenger assistance usually works, I’ve had awful experiences when it’s failed. It’s great to see the rail industry addressing this and planning to change and improve for the benefit of disabled people.”
Assistance App to Empower
Currently, passengers book travel assistance prior to boarding rail services online and this generates a print-out to station staff detailing their mobility requirements. However, when a change occurs there’s no way to update the printed list, which can lead to staff being in the wrong location at the wrong time. Passengers requiring the vital support while boarding are then left without assistance at all.
Paralympian, Anne Wafula-Strike MBE, has campaigns for better accessibility for rail users with disabilities and said the app would “empower disabled people to travel without any fear”.
The Team GB wheelchair racer continued: “Although passenger assistance usually works, I’ve had awful experiences when it’s failed. It’s great to see the rail industry addressing this and planning to change and improve for the benefit of disabled people.”
The app is designed to allow passengers to book, change and cancel assistance quickly. Users can also create a profile to specify their personal details and the type of assistance they require.
Chairman of Transport for All, Alan Benson, said he was ‘pleased’ that rail industry was improving the services offered to passengers with disabilities.
He commented: “Our team still hears regularly from disabled people sharing stories of rail passenger assistance going wrong. This app, as part of a wider overall passenger assist, can really improve the journey experience of disabled and older passengers.”
West Midlands Railway, London Northwestern Railway, Greater Anglia, and South Western Railway are currently trialling different parts of the app before the full roll-out across England, Wales and Scotland.