Passengers with disabilities

All train and station operators are required to have an Accessible Travel Policy (ATP), which sets out their arrangements and commitments to support disabled and older passengers in completing their journey by rail.

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

We’re responsible for making sure that train and station operators consider the needs of older passengers and people with disabilities who may need help to travel by train. As part of this, we provide guidance for and approve train and station operators' ATPs.

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

a) a statement of policy

b) a detailed list of arrangements, procedures, services and other benefits that the licence holder will provide to protect the interests of people with disabilities when travelling on the trains that they’re licenced to operate (‘the Disabled People’s Protection Policy’).

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

1. Passenger leaflet

This document must be titled 'Making Rail Accessible: Helping Older and Disabled Passengers'. It must include information on what assistance is available, how to get it, as well as details of what passengers should expect throughout their journey and how more information can be obtained if required.

2. Policy document

This document must be titled 'Accessible Travel Policy'. It must contain 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 (trains) 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 usually scheduled to run.

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

  • Online, in a format that’s easy to read on a mobile phone or tablet
  • Online in a format that’s accessible using screen readers or other software with accessibility features, such as Adobe Reader
  • 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’s easy to read on a mobile phone or tablet
  • Online as a PDF that’s accessible using screen readers or other software with accessibility features, such as Adobe Reader
  • In alternative formats, including audio, on request within seven working days

5. Network Rail Station Guides for Older and Disabled Passengers

Network Rail has an important role to play in the experience of passengers with disabilities, providing almost a third of all passenger assistance. It must therefore produce a Station Guide to give older travellers and passengers with disabilities confidence when planning their journey to the stations they manage.

The Station Guide must include information on Network Rail's:

  • Station access and facilities
  • Assistance provision
  • Information on changing trains
  • Arrangements when things do not go as planned
  • Information provision

Passenger Assist

Passenger Assist is a service provided by train companies to passengers who require help with their train journey. This service has to be booked in advance. From April 2020, the following notice periods will exist across the industry:

  • From 1 April 2020 until 30 March 2021 passengers will be able to book assistance through Passenger Assist until 10pm the day before travel.
  • From 1 April 2021 passengers won’t need to give more than 6 hours’ notice when booking through Passenger Assist.
  • From 1 April 2022, passengers won’t need to give more than 2 hours’ notice when booking 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 old age. No railcard is required. For more information ask at your local station or visit the website of your local train operator

Turn Up And Go (TUAG)

It’s not always possible to plan your journey in advance. Passengers can turn up at any station that they have identified is accessible to them and request assistance on to a train from a member of staff, or via a help point or a Freephone number. This service is sometimes known as ‘Turn Up And Go’ and depends on conditions at the time of your travel, such as staff availability.

Alternative accessible transport

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

When alternative accessible transport is offered, operators must set out how they will provide, without extra charge, a suitable alternative accessible service to take passengers with disabilities to the nearest, or most convenient accessible station, from where they can continue their journey:

  1. Where a passenger with disabilities or reduced mobility is unable to travel from a station because the station is inaccessible to them (for example, because of a physical condition)
  2. Where, for whatever reason, substitute transport is provided to replace rail (for example, because of planned engineering works, industrial action or a replacement timetable) that is not accessible to disabled passengers
  3. Where there is disruption to services at short notice that, for whatever reason, makes services not accessible to passengers with disabilities

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 isn’t monitored or regulated by the ORR.

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 help board or leave a train, whether assistance has been booked in advance or not.

Where this assistance is needed at an unstaffed station, the operator must ensure a member of staff with a ramp is available to provide 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.

Tickets and fares

Train operators must ensure that, where passengers with disabilities are unable to buy a ticket at a station before their journey, they’re able to buy a ticket without being charged extra on the train or at their destination.

Scooter Carriage

Operators must set out their policy for carrying mobility scooters and other mobility aids for mobility-impaired people on their trains. Operators must make the reasoning behind their policy clear, particularly if there’s a policy that excludes carrying some or all mobility scooters and mobility aids. Any exclusion must only be as a result of an evidence-based safety or physical restriction on the carriage of scooters and other mobility aids.

Aural and visual information

Train operators should give details in their ATP 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, cancellations or disruption.

Luggage

Luggage can be difficult to manage for people with disabilities, 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).

Assistance with luggage must be consistent with the relevant sections of the National Rail Conditions of Travel.