A new website to help older and disabled passengers get the most out of improvements made to rail services is being launched today, by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).
The Rail Travel Made Easy site will help passengers plan their journeys and make the most of the new Passenger Assist service, which lets people book assistance in advance without having to make a separate trip to the station. Rail Travel Made Easy will also demonstrate how Passenger Assist complements the Stations Made Easy service on the National Rail Enquiries website, which helps people to plan their routes through stations and check what they’ll find beforehand.
David Sindall, Head of Disability and Inclusion at ATOC, said: “The new site shows how the improvements we have made come together to ensure rail travel is an even better option for older and disabled passengers. It’s important that the railway does everything it can to let elderly and disabled people know about the range of help and support that is available to them.
“All the evidence indicates that more disabled passengers are using rail. Last year over four million journeys were made using Disabled Persons Railcard discounts. This is encouraging but we think that more journeys could be made if people knew more about some of the useful support that is already in place.”
The Rail Travel Made Easy site was developed in partnership with Wideaware Ltd , a specialist consultancy run by disabled people based in Edinburgh.
Maria Zedda , Managing Director of Wideaware, said: “This has been a very exciting project to have been involved in. We are delighted to have made a contribution and hope that what is delivered will help passengers use the rail network more. I’m quite a seasoned rail traveller but I discovered things, like how to properly use Stations Made Easy and the text alert service, which were entirely new to me and as a deaf passenger are incredibly useful.”
The initial launch of the site concentrates on information suitable to all passengers and phase two of the project will focus on different groups of disabled people such as blind, partially sighted and deaf customers. This will be available towards the end of 2012.
Notes to editors
Since its introduction Passenger Assist has handled approximately 180,000 bookings. Each booking is likely to involve assist at the start and end of the journey and sometimes additional assistance if a change of trains is involved. On this basis ATOC estimates that as many as 750,000 assists may have been provided during this period.
For more information on the Disabled Persons Railcard and Passenger Assist, click here