Record numbers of people with disabilities are getting out and about by train, according to new figures published to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Disabled Persons Railcard.
The research published by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) shows that journeys made on the Railcard have more trebled in the last 15 years, with more than three and a half million trips now made every year.
The Railcard, launched in 1981, is the only one of its kind in Europe and offers passengers a third off the cost of most tickets. The average disabled Railcard holder saves an average of £80 off rail travel every year. Disabled travellers who have held a Railcard since 1981 would have saved almost £2,500 and travelled more than 40,000 miles.
As well as the savings offered for disabled passengers, train companies attribute the continuing rise in numbers to significant improvements in facilities and services on trains.
Examples of major changes and developments include:
- In 2009, ATOC launched Stations Made Easy, an interactive web guide showing access facilities and layouts of all 2,500 stations in Britain, the first such tool of its kind for a railway network.
- The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was extended to cover the railways in 2005, leading to the removal of all trains with slam doors among other, ongoing, improvements.
- The Passenger Assistance Scheme which allows disabled people to book ahead as a way of ensuring that they get the assistance they need.
David Sindall, Head of Disability and Inclusion at ATOC, said:
“Accessible public transport plays a key role in allowing disabled people to lead an independent life, so it’s good news that more and more people are taking advantage of the Railcard.
“Over the last three decades huge progress has been made in improving rail services for disabled people, making their journeys quicker, easier and more straightforward than they used to be. But train companies are committed to responding to passengers’ needs and will continue to work closely with disability charities and support groups to improve services even further.”