29th November 2018
Research published today by disability charity Leonard Cheshire reveals that disabled people cannot use over 40% of Great Britain’s train stations.
The lack of step-free access means that disabled people are restricted from living their lives as independently as possible and also makes spontaneous trips and visits to friends and family almost impossible.
Many disabled people also face difficulties planning travel, due to the unclear information on step-free access from National Rail.
Even at stations with step-free access, often a ramp is still needed to get from the platform to the train. This needs extra assistance, which is not always available, making it impossible for disabled people to travel spontaneously.
Vinny, who lives in Liverpool, commented on the challenges he faces when travelling by train:
‘I would like to rely on trains more to get around. But I can’t physically get into some stations and transferring between trains is often very difficult.
‘Steps are a really big issue for me. It means you have to consider which jobs to go for, because some are just not an option. If someone offered you a promotion and you think there’s a train station around the corner, but then you scope it out and it’s actually too far or there are steps, then it will make the difference between going for the job or not.’
The latest findings follow research by Leonard Cheshire earlier this year that more than a third (35%) of working age disabled people have experienced problems using trains in the last year as a result of their disability.
Hannah, from Cheshire, uses a wheelchair and relies on trains to be able to visit her friends in London. She said:
‘I have made quite a few journeys by train in the last couple of years and have found that it takes meticulous planning to organise each trip. I’m lucky that my local station is accessible, but that is not always the case at my destination. The lack of consistent step-free access at stations across the country makes journeys at best, a logistical challenge, and at worst, impossible to achieve.’
Leonard Cheshire is campaigning for the government and rail operators to make all stations fit for use by disabled people – this includes making sure every station has step-free access from the station to the train.
The charity is calling on people across the country to write to their local rail operating providers to fulfil their duty to disabled passengers and provide step-free access at their train stations.
Neil Heslop, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, said:
‘Poor public transport is forcing disabled people to miss out on every day events which others take for granted – from employment opportunities to social events.
‘Disabled people cannot continue to put their lives on hold. Rail operators must make it their absolute priority to ensure that their train stations have step-free access, so that all their customers can travel as they choose.’
You can join their campaign for more accessible travel here.
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