ORR consults on wide-ranging proposals to make the railway more accessible for all

14 November 2018

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has today published proposals significantly revising guidance for train and station operators to make the railway more accessible for all.

The wide-ranging reforms to the Disabled People's Protection Policy (DPPP) are designed to bring greater quality, consistency and reliability to Assisted Travel for disabled passengers.

Most disabled passengers get the help they requested and are satisfied with the service they receive. However, ORR’s evidence-led review - informed by extensive passenger research, input from disability groups, industry experts and key stakeholders - has generated new insight into longstanding problems, particularly the industry systems and processes which too often undermine the ability of staff to deliver Assisted Travel with the consistency that passengers expect.

To address this ORR is consulting on proposals to:

  • Increase the reliability of assistance for disabled passengers by introducing a new standardised handover process for all GB mainline stations. This will work in tandem with new arrangements to strengthen communication between stations and measures to introduce greater accountability for assistance provision.
  • Improve accessible journey planning by standardising key station accessibility information on facilities, step-free access and staffing to provide a better and more accurate picture of what disabled passengers can expect at each station.
  • Reduce the notice period for booking assistance, currently up to 24 hours before travel, we are consulting on three options for passengers; booking by 10pm the night before travel, booking a minimum of 6 hours before travel and booking a minimum of 2 hours before travel.
  • Ensure all train companies provide compensation to passengers if they do not receive the assistance they have booked.
  • Standardise and improve information for passengers including a more concise passenger leaflet focused on what to expect before travelling, at the station, on the train and if things go wrong. ORR is also recommending the Rail Delivery Group promote Assisted Travel to the people who would benefit from this service but do not currently travel by rail.
  • Strengthen train and station operators’ staff training including involving disabled people in its delivery and requiring staff to have refresher training at least every two years. This would ensure disabled passengers, including those with hidden disabilities, receive a better, more consistent service from all staff whether they book assistance in advance or travel spontaneously.

Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs, ORR said: “Assisted Travel is a vital service that should offer disabled people the opportunity to travel with ease.

"Throughout this review process we have been encouraged by the good practice we have found, however, we also know more needs to be done until every passenger can travel with confidence consistently.

"Our proposed reforms are a much needed change to the current guidance that was written in 2009. Much has changed since then and while there has been good practice, this often has not gone far or fast enough. We recognise the potential cost of changes and that they may take time to put in place, but we are ambitious in our vision of a more accessible railway for all."

Notes to editors

  1. Improving assisted travel consultation 2018 pdf icon PDF, 2,675 Kb
    1. Large Print version pdf icon PDF, 1,516 Kb
    2. Easy Read version pdf icon PDF, 5,619 Kb
    3. Audio version - available shortly
  2. Assisted Travel includes assistance booked in advance via the Passenger Assist system, and spontaneous travel where assistance is requested on arrival at the station.
  3. About DPPP
    Train and station operators are required by their operating licences to establish and comply with a DPPP.
  4. About the consultation process
    The consultation is open until 18 January 2019 and responses are invited by email or in writing.
    All responses to this consultation will be published on the ORR website.
    Consideration will be given to the responses before ORR publish revised Guidance for operators in Spring 2019, along with an explanation of the final decisions taken on proposals.
  5. Latest stats released by ORR show booked passenger assists had increased by 4.7% to 428,350 during 2018-19 periods 1 to 4 (1 April to 24 June 2018) compared to the same time last year. Further statistics are available on the ORR data portal.