HomeGovernanceGBR seen as being key to making railway more accessible

GBR seen as being key to making railway more accessible


The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) has said that GBR could be the key to coordinating efforts to provide suitable accessibility for disabled people — with comments suggesting that we have some way still to go.

DPTAC was both answering a consultation on the Williams Shapps Plan for Rail, and, it says, a part of it: the current proposal is to make it a statutory advisor to Great British Railways, as well as to the Secretary of State, on matters relating to disability and transport.

This is something it is “very willing” to undertake.

The body, which calls itself a “critical friend” of the government did not hold back on where it felt the rail industry was in the scheme of things in its consultation responses. It said: “The lack of a coherent, long-term strategy for improving the accessibility of the rail network defined and managed by a single guiding mind has been a major obstacle to delivering a more accessible railway.”

It added: “This has been exacerbated by an often uncoordinated or partially coordinated approach to the implementation of initiatives to improve accessibility, and a complex industry structure that has undermined and weakened the ability of disabled people and their representative organisations to hold the rail industry to account.”

It said this meant the railway remains inaccessible to many disabled people.

It strongly recommends a singular guiding hand like Great British Railways, with accountability from the ORR, to “deliver fundamental improvements” in terms of rail network accessibility.

It adds that there needs to be buy-in from the GBR senior leadership which permeates all levels of the organisation. DPTAC added a true culture of accessibility would resemble something akin to how safety is treated by the industry.

Practical advice to make this happens includes clear public individual responsibilities for the delivery of accessibility at executive and board level. The board meetings in turn would require an updated report on accessibility — including performance monitoring, complaints, regulatory interventions and proposed remedial actions.

Meanwhile, all members of the senior leadership team, it said, should have disability awareness training, at an enhanced level, and attain accreditation under the relevant schemes.

Supplementing this would be metrics for monitoring accessibility, and the performance against these measurements made public, with ORR having a hand in this procedure.

New policies and investment decisions would also need to have impact assessments with regards to disabled passenger use. The hope would be that, if anything, the situation for disabled people would then be improved, and that policy is coherent, and it is delivered in a coordinated and consistent way.

DPTAC hopes that GBR monitors best practice approaches from other sectors, and it also urges that people’s whole journeys are considered, including how it fits with other types of transport.

Funding, it added, was crucial for making this happen.


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