UK Government Asks Industry to Ensure Accessible Rail Services
Europe, Transportation, April 27 2020
UNITED KINGDOM: The UK’s Minister of State for Transport Chris Heaton-Harris has asked the rail industry to ensure the accessibility of services during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic so that essential workers can travel.
He stated that rail services should be accessible for everyone and will ensure that disabled people are able to travel during the pandemic.
The government has aided the industry in increasing its accessibility with the £20m in funding to provide accessibility improvements in the country’s 124 stations and the It’s Everyone’s Journey programme for people with non-visible disabilities.
Heaton-Harris said: “Since the government issued advice for people to avoid travel unless necessary, I have been concerned to hear from disability campaigners about a few incidents at rail stations where individual passengers were apparently refused assistance.
“I feel strongly that social distancing measures should not limit access in this way and would request that staff have access to clear guidance to ensure they can support all passengers using our railways.”
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has renewed the guidance for railway operator guidance to ensure that rail workers are safe without hindering the travel for disabled essential workers.
The UK Department of Transport will work with the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for investigating any instances of disturbances for disabled people amid the outbreak.
Earlier this week, UK-based rail operator Grand Central Railway temporarily halted its train services from 3 April due to travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.
Last month, the UK Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps stated that railway operators have the option to temporarily transition to Emergency Measures Agreements.