Elderly and disabled people with mobility problems, parents with young children and passengers with heavy luggage will find it much easier to get around the rail network from today, with the launch of a new interactive web guide to stations in Britain, called ‘Stations Made Easy’.
In a national railway first anywhere in the world, over 2,500 stations in Britain were photographed to give passengers a step by step guide of how to get around when they travel by train. The photographs allow people to pick a route around a station that makes their journey as easy as possible.
The guide will also show interactive maps of every station in the country, pointing out where passengers can find all the facilities, such as ticket machines, toilets, taxi points, shops and bars.
The new application can be found on the National Rail Enquiries website, which is the most visited travel and transport site in Great Britain with, on average, more than twelve million visits to the site every month, and is run by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).
A total of £1.2m has been invested in the new guide, which has been paid for by train companies, Network Rail, the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland. Today’s launch coincides with the International Day of Disabled People.
As part of the project:
- 700,000 photos were taken of over 2,500 stations in Great Britain
- An average of seven stations were photographed each day for a year
- Thousands of routes were plotted through individual stations - there are over 44,000 routes identified within London Bridge station alone.
Statistics also show that:
- There are more stations in Britain than branches of Tesco or McDonald’s, and Waterloo station has more customers a year than Heathrow and Gatwick airports combined
- Last year, 1.27 billion journeys were made on Britain’s railways.
Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of ATOC, said: “This is a first for a national rail network anywhere in the world. From parents with small children and passengers with heavy bags, to older people and the disabled, the new service will help passengers to get around stations with as little bother and hassle as possible.
“Train companies are responding to a travelling public that is becoming ever more sophisticated in the way it plans its journeys. In the same way that people use sat navs or Google Earth, we hope that passengers will use this new application as a step by step guide to get them around train stations. This project shows how the public and private sectors are working together and train companies are investing money to continue to improve services for passengers.”
Transport Minister Chris Mole said: “We’re committed to encouraging more people onto the railways and this interactive guide will help us achieve that.
“It is vital that we improve access to our railways for passengers with limited mobility, as well as those with heavy bags or small children. That’s why we have contributed £0.5m towards developing this project and in 2006 we launched our £370m Access for All initiative which aims to improve accessibility at railway stations across England and Wales.”
Robin Gisby, Network Rail’s director of operations and customer service, said: “This is a great initiative that will make life so much easier for many thousands of passengers and we are happy to support this ongoing venture.”
Anthony Smith, Chief Executive, Passenger Focus, said: “We welcome this service which is a real boon for all passengers but especially disabled passengers or those using unfamiliar stations for the first time. It is also pleasing to see Britain’s railways leading the way in this type of visual station information”.
Chris Clark, Transport Scotland’s Rail Accessibility Manager, said: “Transport Scotland is delighted to make a contribution to this valuable resource, which will provide real benefits for passengers travelling by rail throughout Britain.”