To understand the challenges that disabled passengers may face when travelling, railway staff are being trained to communicate effectively and to refresh their knowledge and skills so they can provide any assistance needed.
Almost 30,000 passenger-facing staff will have undertaken disability awareness and equality training by the end of 2021, as part of requirements set out in the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) Guidance.
In its review of ATP commitments, the rail regulator has welcomed this progress made by all 24 train and station operators, despite the challenges of Covid-19. Most operators are broadly on track to meet their commitments by the end of July, while some, such as Great Western Railway, have already done so. GWR has trained all of its 4,600 frontline staff and 11 train operators are extending the training from frontline staff to all colleagues.
In total, 13 train and station operators have developed brand new courses to be used in staff inductions and for refresher training. Key to successful delivery has been the involvement of disabled people in the development and delivery of training – making their experiences of using the railway a central focus.
Stephanie Tobyn, deputy director for consumers at ORR said: “ORR wants all passengers to be able to travel safely with confidence and with ease. Introducing obligations on train and station operators to provide up-to-date, regular disability awareness and equality training to their staff is part of our broad package of measures to improve the experience of disabled passengers.
“Despite our initial concerns about progress in designing and delivering compliant training packages, the picture has become much more positive over the last six months, with the process of training tens of thousands of staff now well under way.”
Sarah Rennie, accessibility specialist and trainer, who has been delivering training to a number of train operators, added: “It’s a privilege to lead teams of disabled trainers to facilitate discussions which challenge outdated perceptions, and support staff to understand what the 21st century disabled consumer expects.
“As a disabled rail passenger myself, I’m confident that with the right supportive culture, rather than seeing us as ‘tasks’, we’ll see a stronger shift to valuing our end-to-end customer experience.”