Passengers with disabilities

Licensed train and station operators are required to have an Accessible Travel Policy (ATP), which sets out how they will protect the interests of disabled users of their trains and stations.

Making Rail Accessible: ORR's role in enforcing Accessible Travel Policies (ATPs)

We are responsible for making sure that train and station operators consider the needs of older and disabled passengers. As part of this, we issue guidance for and approve train and station operators' ATPs.

The 'Accessible Travel Policy' condition of passenger and station operator licences requires licence holders to:

Establish and thereafter comply with:

  1. a statement of policy; and
  2. a detailed body of arrangements, procedures, services and other benefits to be implemented or provided by the licence holder designed to protect the interests of people who are disabled in their use of trains of which the licence holder is the operator pursuant to this licence and to facilitate such use (together ‘the Disabled People’s Protection Policy’).

In meeting the above licence obligation, operators must adhere to the document structure set out in the Guidance when producing their Accessible Travel Policy.

1. Passenger leaflet

This customer-facing document must be titled 'Making Rail Accessible: Helping Older and Disabled Passengers'. It must include information on what assistance is available and how it can be obtained as well as information on what passengers should expect throughout their journey and how further information can be obtained if required.

2. Policy document

This policy document must be titled 'Accessible Travel Policy'. It must contained details on the operators Commitments to providing assistance as well as details around their Strategy and Management. It must be produced as an A4-sized document in both Word and PDF format. It must also be provided in a range of alternative formats.

3. Rolling Stock Accessibility

Operators must provide an overview of the types of rolling stock [normally] used on their services, including information on the general accessibility of each type and details of the routes on which different types of rolling stock are normally scheduled to run.

This information must be kept up-to-date and made available to passengers:

  • online, in a format that can easily be accessed using a personal mobile device;
  • online as a PDF that is accessible using screen readers or other software with accessibility features, such as Adobe Reader; and
  • in alternative formats, including audio, on request within seven working days.

4. Station accessibility

Operators must provide details of services and facilities at all of the stations they manage and other stations called at by their services, including relevant stations operated by Network Rail.

This information must be kept up-to-date and made available to passengers:

  • online, in a format that can easily be accessed using a personal mobile device;
  • online as a PDF that is accessible using screen readers or other software with accessibility features, such as Adobe Reader; and
  • in alternative formats, including audio, on request within seven working days.

5. Network Rail Station Guides for Older and Disabled Passengers

Network Rail is critical to the experience of disabled passengers using the railway, providing almost a third of all passenger assistance. It must therefore produce a station guide to provide assured confidence to older and disabled travellers when planning their journey to their managed stations.

The Guide must include information on Network Rail's:

  • Station access and facilities;
  • Assistance provision;
  • Information on interchange;
  • Arrangements when things do not go as planned, and
  • Information provision.

Passenger Assist

Passenger Assist is a service provided by train companies to passengers who require assistance with their train journey. This service has to be booked in advance, but you don’t need to give more than 24 hours’ notice for bookings through Passenger Assist.
When booked in advance, assistance should be provided at all stations during the hours in which trains are scheduled to serve the station.

Staff can help you plan your journey, book tickets and make reservations. They can also assist you at stations and onboard trains, with anything from changing platforms to finding your seat.

Passenger Assistance is free and available to anyone who needs assistance due to a disability, temporary impairment, or older age. No railcard is required. For more information ask at your local station or visit the website of your local train operator.

Alternative accessible transport

Operators must ensure that passengers who require assistance are able to make as much of their journey by rail as possible. However, there are circumstances under which alternative accessible transport may be offered instead. Operators must, where reasonably practicable, offer an option that most resembles the service provided to passengers not requiring assistance.

For the circumstances under which alternative accessible transport is offered, operators must therefore set out how they will provide, without extra charge, an appropriate alternative accessible service to take disabled passengers to the nearest or most convenient accessible station from where they can continue their journey:

  1. where a disabled passenger or passenger with reduced mobility is unable to travel from a station because the station is inaccessible to them (e.g. because of a physical constraint);
  2. where, for whatever reason, substitute transport is provided to replace rail (e.g. because of planned engineering works, industrial action or a replacement timetable) that is inaccessible to disabled passengers;
  3. where there is disruption to services at short notice that, for whatever reason, makes services inaccessible to disabled passengers.

The accessibility requirements for buses and taxis is set out in separate legislation to that referenced in section 1.3 of this guidance; the accessibility of these services is neither monitored nor regulated by the ORR.

Turn Up And Go (TUAG)

It might not always be possible to plan your journey in advance. Train operators must also provide assistance to passengers where this has not been arranged in advance, where reasonably practicable. This service is sometimes known as "Turn Up And Go" and it can depend on conditions at the time of your travel, such as staff availability.

Ramps

Train operators must provide ramps that are fit for purpose, available at all staffed stations (either at the station or on board the train) to facilitate the boarding or leaving of the train, whether assistance has been booked in advance or not.

Where this assistance is needed at an unstaffed station, the operator must make a member of staff with a ramp available to deliver the assistance where this has been booked in advance.

Passenger Information

Train operators must provide up to date information about the accessibility of facilities and services at stations and on their trains on the National Rail Enquiries (NRE) website. This includes the NRE’s Station Journey Planner ('Stations Made Easy'), as well as the train operators’ own website.Train operators must provide up to date information about the accessibility of facilities and services at stations and on their trains on the National Rail Enquiries (NRE) website. This includes the NRE’s Station Journey Planner ('Stations Made Easy'), as well as the train operators’ own website.

Tickets and fares

Train operators must ensure that, where disabled passengers are unable to buy a ticket at a station before their journey, they are able to buy a ticket without penalty on the train or at their destination.

Scooter Carriage

Operators must set out their policy regarding the carriage of mobility scooters and other mobility aids for mobility-impaired people on their trains. Operators must make the reasoning behind their policy clear, particularly with regard to any policy excluding the carriage of some or all mobility scooters and mobility aids. Any exclusion must only be as a result of an evidenced safety or physical restriction on carriage of scooters and other mobility aids.

Aural and visual information

Train operators should give details in their DPPP of their policies for the provision of aural and visual information at stations. This must include a commitment to providing, wherever possible, clear and consistent aural and visual information on train departures and other relevant messages, particularly in the event of delays or disruption.

Luggage

Luggage can be difficult to manage for many disabled people, so train operators must ensure that staff will be available to help when this assistance has been arranged in advance (for example through Passenger Assist).

For further information, and to book assistance, please contact your train operator, or see the Disabled Persons Railcard website.