Improving Assisted Travel

Our Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) Guidance sets out the commitments that train and station operators must make in their plans to support disabled and older passengers in completing their journey by rail.

This new Guidance is a result of all the work we’ve done to understand passengers' experience of the Accessible Travel service. By following the ATP Guidance, train and station operators will be able to provide a better, more reliable service for passengers that book assistance in advance, and those that request help at a station.

In November 2018, we discussed plans to update the existing Disabled People’s Protection Policy Guidance, published in 2009 by the Department for Transport. The responses we received following this discussion (published here) reflected our concerns that the Accessible Travel service needed improving and also provided us with useful comments and suggestions.

After considering the views of those who responded to our consultation, we carried out further discussions with key industry bodies and agreed to replace the term ‘Disabled People’s Protection Policy’ with ‘Accessible Travel Policy’.

The revised Accessible Travel Policy Guidance contains new and updated requirements for operators to follow to improve the experience of assisted travel.

Rail Replacement Services

We’ve consulted on revising the Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) Guidance to improve the availability of vehicles that  passengers with disabilities can access if rail services are changed or delayed. We’ve published all non-confidential responses, a brief update on the developments we’re considering, along with the views and comments we’ve received from our discussions.

New requirements for rail companies

  • Increase the reliability of assistance for disabled passengers by introducing a new standardised handover process for all GB mainline stations, in tandem with new arrangements to strengthen communication between stations and measures to introduce greater accountability for assistance provision to be introduced by June 2020.
  • 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.
  • Strengthen train and station operators’ training of staff in disability awareness, including involving disabled people in its delivery and requiring staff to have refresher training at least every two years. This will ensure disabled passengers, including those with non-visible disabilities, receive a better, more consistent service from all staff whether they book assistance in advance or request assistance on arrival at the station.
  • Reduce the notice period for booking assistance, currently up to 24 hours before travel. We now require operators to enable:
    • booking by 10pm the night before travel by April 2020;
    • booking a minimum of 6 hours before travel by April 2021; and
    • booking a minimum of 2 hours before travel by April 2022.
  • Improving the ability for passengers to receive redress when booked assistance fails (e.g. compensation).
  • Standardise and improve information for passengers, including provision at staffed stations of a concise, easy-to-read passenger leaflet focused on what to expect before travelling, at the station, on the train and if things do not go as planned.
  • Involve disabled people in a meaningful way in the development and review of operator policies and training, so that the view of passenger champions, local communities and user groups are considered.

ORR Guidance and related documents

Alongside the Accessible Travel Policy Guidance, we published a summary of the responses we received. We also set out the steps we’d take to ensure train and station operators, including Network Rail, deliver the improvements. This document is also available in accessible formats, which are listed below. 

We also wrote to the managing directors of the train and station operators we regulate, including Network Rail, asking them to submit their revised policies by the end of December 2019.

Published on 27 July 2019:


Over the course of 18 months, we published two different consultations to seek a wide range of views on how Assisted Travel services could be improved, and to set out our plans to change the Disabled People's Protection Policy (DPPP) Guidance for train and station operators.

Read our  2018 consultation.

Read our 2017 consultation.

Accessible Travel Policies (ATPs)

Each train and station operator are required to have an Accessible Travel Policy (ATP). The ATP must set out the operator’s commitments and standards of service provision and provide a high standard of service for rail passengers with disabilities. The information must be set out as four documents, as shown in the image below, and be approved by ORR.

Read more about ORR's role in the approval of ATP's.

Stakeholder engagement

To help develop our thinking, we worked closely with all train and station operators, as well as groups that represent the interests of people with disabilities, including:

  • Railway Safety and Standards Board (RSSB)
  • Rail Delivery Group (RDG)
  • Rail Sector Disability Champion
  • The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC)
  • The Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS)
  • Transport Focus
  • Network Rail
  • The UK Department for Transport
  • Transport Scotland
  • The Welsh Assembly Government

Assisted Travel Advisory Group

Before our 2018 consultation, we created an advisory group to help us update the 2009 DPPP guidance. The advisory group was made up of organisations that represent the interests of people with disabilities and the Disability Rail Sector Champion, as well as industry bodies such as the Rail Delivery Group, Transport Focus and the Department for Transport.

The advisory group met three times in the summer of 2018 to discuss the key issues identified by ORR and to provide advice on our plans for further public discussions on:

  • Updating the existing requirements as set out in the DPPP Guidance
  • Plans for new requirements to be set out in the DPPP Guidance
  • The format and structure of DPPPs, including any suggestions for change
  • How improvement to Assisted Travel as discussed in ORR’s recent consultation can be put into practice through changes to the DPPP Guidance
  • What further evidence, investigation or engagement may be needed to develop the new DPPP Guidance or improvement to Assisted Travel more generally

Terms of Reference

Assisted Travel Advisory Group - Terms of Reference

Group Members

  • Fiona Walshe: Department for Transport
  • David Mapp: Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee
  • James Taylor: Disability Charities Consortium
  • Craig O’Beirne: Rail Delivery Group
  • Stephen Brookes MBE: Rail Sector Disability Champion
  • Phil Wilks: Transport Focus
  • Chris Clark:Transport Scotland
  • Stephen Chamberlain: Welsh Assembly Government

Meeting notes

ORR Accessible Travel Stakeholder Forum

We have created an Accessible Travel Stakeholder Forum to help us deliver our vision of a railway network where passengers can request assistance with confidence and ease, safe in the knowledge that it will be provided reliably, effectively, and consistently by staff that have the training and knowledge to do so with confidence and skill.

The forum will comprise of representatives from key stakeholders that represent people with a wide range of impairments from across Great Britain. The forum will meet biannually to provide advice to ORR on accessibility issues and explore opportunities for ORR to further promote the interests of disabled passengers.

Group members

  • Alzheimer’s Society
  • Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC)
  • Leonard Cheshire
  • Mobility Access Committee for Scotland (MACS)
  • Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
  • Shaw Trust
  • Scope
  • Rail Sector Champion, Stephen Brookes MBE
  • Transport for All

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) attend as an Observer.

Meeting notes

Terms of Reference