Greater Anglia has worked with a noted access and inclusion professional to ensure that its new fleet of trains, the first of which has now entered service, has much improved accessibility features.
The first of 58 new trains that are being manufactured for Greater Anglia by Stadler is now in passenger service on the Norwich to Lowestoft and Norwich to Great Yarmouth routes. As one of the final performance and safety tests, Dominic Lund-Conlon conducted an overnight test run to give his final feedback on the improved accessible area and accessible toilets on every train, on the lower level floors and on the retractable step at each door, which bridges the gap between station platform and train, making them more accessible for wheelchairs, buggies and people with mobility problems.
Dominic, who has been instrumental in the design of the accessible features of the new Class 755 trains, is head of accessibility and inclusion at the Rail Delivery Group.
With a team from Greater Anglia, he also tested the bespoke portable ramps that have been designed to bridge the step for those who still need to board with a ramp. The step and ramp were checked at every station on the Norwich to Cambridge line, and Dominic also made also made use of the accessible area while the train was travelling.
Following the successful tests, Dominic commented: “Working together, rail companies are introducing 7,000 new carriages across the country and the low floor trains from Stadler are a real game changer for all customers in East Anglia.
“With level boarding in many cases, improved customer information systems and large accessible toilets, the improvements are going to give new confidence to those travelling.
“The new trains have been designed in partnership between disabled people and rail professionals. The desire to deliver a train that is properly accessible includes better visual messaging for those with hearing impairments, stronger contrasts within the train and space for assistance animals where required.
“The collaborative efforts of all involved has resulted in a train fit for the future.”
Rebecca Richardson, Greater Anglia accessibility manager, added: “We have worked very hard with both the Stadler design team and our access and inclusion stakeholders and professionals to make sure these trains are offering a much better and more accessible journey experience for everyone.
“We took a group to Switzerland to participate in the design process and were able to offer some bespoke changes to the finished design based on their recommendations.
“With the help of this group of stakeholders, I’m confident that we have now commissioned the most accessible trains in the country.”