Assisted travel advisory group created by rail regulator

30 April 2018

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has today announced it will create an advisory group to support work on potential updates to the guidance the rail industry uses to form accessibility policies.

The move comes after ORR research in November 2017 showed that although there is high satisfaction among passengers receiving booked and unbooked travel assistance, there are at times some problems with reliability and there is a need for improvements in staff training, particularly around hidden disabilities. The research also identified that there is low awareness of what assistance is available.

The advisory group will comprise disability groups and individuals such as the recently appointed Disability Rail Sector Champion as well as industry bodies such as the Rail Delivery Group, Transport Focus and the Department for Transport. The group will advise on proposals to the changes to accessibility guidelines, due to be published in autumn 2018.

Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director of Consumers at ORR, said:

"Our research showed that where assisted travel works as it should, passengers find it a good service. But, current guidance is out of date and our research shows that there is scope to make improvements in passenger awareness, reliability and staff training.

"In creating the advisory group, ORR is bringing together passengers and industry to help inform how best to make improvements to this important service."

Notes to editors

  1. Improving Assisted Travel: a consultation summary & next steps
  2. Industry guidelines on accessibility
    Train and station operators are required to establish and comply with a disabled people's protection policy (DPPP) which must be approved by ORR.

    A DPPP sets out, amongst other things, the arrangements and assistance that an operator will provide to protect the interests of disabled people using its services and to facilitate such use.

    The 2009 Guidance on how to write your DPPP forms the basis of ORR's review and approval of operators DPPP. It is this guidance, which ORR is reviewing.
  3. Assisted TravelThere are two types of Assisted Travel; booked assistance known as Passenger Assist, and spontaneous travel known as ‘Turn up and go’.
    • Passenger Assist is a free service which rail companies must offer to passengers with disabilities, or anyone else who may require help, to provide assistance to enable them to make their journey. Passengers request assistance by booking it in advance of their journey. Rail companies can, as a maximum, require bookings to be made 24 hours prior to travel, although some companies require less.
    • ‘Turn Up And Go’ is a travel assistance service that train companies must offer, where reasonably practicable, without the need to book in advance. The ability to offer assistance may depend on circumstances on the day.