124 stations across Great Britain to benefit from a share of £20m for accessibility improvements
Latest in a series of improvements by the Transport Secretary to accelerate the pace of change for a more accessible transport network
Follows launch of new campaign to improve journeys for disabled people when using public transport
Disabled passengers across Great Britain are set to benefit from accessibility improvements at 124 stations thanks to a £20m government fund.
The enhancements announced by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today (February 26) are funded through the Access for All programme and will include new lifts, accessible toilets and customer information screens.
It comes as a new Government campaign launched this week to improve the journeys of disabled passengers on public transport.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“The ability to travel easily from A to B is an essential factor for our day to day lives – but is not the reality for everyone.
“I recognise that we have much more to do, which is why we’re making 124 train stations across the country more accessible – a key part of levelling-up access for disabled people to transport and opening up opportunities for all.
“This is just the start of a much more ambitious agenda. My goal is to go much further in the years ahead to help ensure that our country’s transport system becomes one of the most accessible in the world.”
These improvements are being made through the Access for All programme which, since 2006, has already made more than 200 stations step free, as well as delivered smaller scale accessibility improvements at more than 1,500 others to improve passenger experience.
Today’s £20million is part of a £300million package announced last year which is already providing accessible, step free routes at 73 stations across Great Britain, making it easier for disabled people to travel on the UK’s rail network.
Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said:
“Everyone using our rail network deserves platforms and toilets they can use and this £20million investment to improve 124 railway stations across the country will make a huge difference to disabled people.
“This Government is committed to levelling up the playing field and later this year we’ll launch a national strategy which will ensure disabled people have equal access to all spheres of life.”
This follows the launch of the ‘it’s everyone’s journey’ advertising campaign to highlight how we can all play a part in making public transport inclusive. The campaign is being supported by more than 100 partners, including First Group, WHSmith Travel and the Alzheimer’s Society.
Department for Transport research has shown that behaviours that make public transport a daunting place for disabled people are often unconscious, such as not looking out for a fellow passenger who might need a seat or be in distress.
‘it’s everyone’s journey’ will raise awareness about the needs of disabled people when using public transport, particularly people with non-visible impairments, and will also prompt members of the public to think and consider how their behaviour might impact others.
Alongside this, the Department has also launched its Inclusive Transport Leaders scheme, an accreditation scheme which will encourage, celebrate and promote best practice in inclusive transport.
Operators, such as bus and train companies, are encouraged to sign up to the Inclusive Transport Leaders Scheme, where they will work towards one of three accreditation levels by demonstrating the steps they have taken to improve the travelling experiences of disabled passengers, older people, and those with reduced mobility.
These improvements form part of the wider Inclusive Transport Strategy and supports the Government’s ambition of achieving equal access for all on public transport.
CrossCountry, part of the Arriva Group, has welcomed the opening of Worcestershire’s first new railway station for over 100 years.
On Sunday 23 February, Worcestershire Parkway station joins 118 stations already served by CrossCountry across Great Britain. With its large, secure car park, modern facilities and accessible platforms, the new station makes a fantastic gateway to the region.
With an hourly CrossCountry service throughout the day, southbound to Gloucester and Cardiff and northwards to Birmingham and Nottingham, onward connections will link the county to almost every part of the country. As well as CrossCountry, GWR services to the Cotswolds and London will extend the county’s reach. This enhanced connectivity to the rest of Britain will enable Worcestershire to continue growing its business and tourism links as the country becomes an even easier place to visit.
Tom Joyner, CrossCountry’s Managing Director, said: “We are delighted that Worcestershire Parkway is now open for business. This new station and its excellent connections will benefit the regions’ rail users, and we look forward to working with the council and other stakeholders to promote its use.”
A Suffolk organisation aims to get more people walking this Spring with a series of free guided walks.
The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership will run a guided walk over five Saturdays from 29 February until 4 April with each one starting and ending at a Greater Anglia rail station on the Ipswich – Lowestoft and Felixstowe rail lines.
The Partnership’s Chairman, Aaron Taffera, says he hopes that because the walks start and end at the train station people will come from far and wide to enjoy them – and be able to leave the car at home.
He commented: “It means that people can discover our beautiful Suffolk countryside without the pollution of additional cars entering the county.”
The first walk, on Saturday 29 February, is a 5-mile circular walk from Westerfield station. More details about other walks in the programme can be found at www.eastsuffolkline.org.
They all start and end at a rail station, connecting in with train times.
Chairman of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, Aaron Taffera, adds, “Studies have shown that walking is great for your health and the beautiful scenery of our part of Suffolk is positively good for the soul, so we encourage everyone to come and try one of our walks.
“With the added benefit of being able to travel on one of Greater Anglia’s brand new, more environmentally friendly trains, people can get out and about whilst reducing their carbon footprint.”
The Partnership has also produced a book of self-guided walks from rail stations which is free and available from most public buildings in Suffolk such as tourist information centres and libraries or online at http://www.eastsuffolkline.com/walks.
The booklet contains detailed maps and diagrams, duration of each walk, landmarks, details of the scenery along the way and places to stop for refreshments. All the walks are way-marked with the East Suffolk Line Walks logo.
The book of 22 walks – covering more than 160 miles – saw the Partnership nominated for an ‘Influencing Positive Change’ Award at last year’s Community Rail Awards.
Unique experience to take in a view of the railway like you’ve never seen it before
Winner will sit next to the Driver, accompanied by a Driver Manager, from Sheffield to London St Pancras
First Class travel provided on return journey
All proceeds go to Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity.
First Class rail travel will be provided back to Sheffield (or another EMR destination) at a time of the winner’s convenience that day. On your return journey, you will be treated to a meal in First Class and a free drink of your choice.
Donate a minimum of £10, each £10 donation = 1 ticket into the draw
Leave us your full name when donating.
The chance to win this exciting opportunity will close on Friday 20th March 2020.
The winner will be announced on EMR’s social media platforms on Monday 30th March 2020. The winner will then be contacted to arrange a suitable date in conjunction with one of our Driver Managers.
All proceeds raised will be going to Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity. You can find out more about the work the vital work this organisation does by clicking here.
Mark Evans, On Train Service Delivery Manager for EMR said “This is a once in a lifetime chance to sit in the cab from Sheffield to London St Pancras on one of our most loved trains, the HST which will sadly not be in service from the end of this year. I want to thank everyone who enters; it is greatly appreciated. This is helping us to raise a lot of money for this fantastic charity, the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity”.
· Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity licence number 5384 · Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.
£2.5 million new government funding agreed to deliver improvements for CrossCountry passengers
Longer trains will add more than 20,000 extra seats each week from May 2021 to support passengers
Investment will also expand seat and bike reservation service
Thousands of passengers will benefit from improvements on CrossCountry trains including over 20,000 extra seats a week, thanks to £2.5 million invested by the government, the Rail Minister has announced today (24 February).
Passengers travelling from Birmingham to Nottingham, Leicester and Cardiff will start to see longer trains on some services from May 2020 delivering more than 5,000 more seats each week. A further 15,000 seats per week are planned to be in place from mid-2021, including to/from Cambridge and Stansted Airport to support the region’s commuters, businesses and leisure travellers.
More customers are set to benefit as the Department for Transport (DfT) and CrossCountry finalise plans to deliver thousands more seats on long distance routes each week from December 2020. Longer trains will operate on some services on Mondays to Thursdays on the routes from Scotland, the North East and Manchester to the South West and the South Coast.
The £2.5 million new government funding was agreed by the DfT and CrossCountry to help tackle overcrowding. Work is underway on further improvements in the years to come when more rolling stock will be available, especially for longer distance routes that Cross Country serves.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, said:
“Investing in transport is essential to levelling up the country, as we look to modernise our rail network and restructure the industry to put passengers at the heart of the railway.
“But we want to fund benefits to address pressing needs and improve journeys for passengers in the short-term, as well as in the future.
“More seats mean more people can travel, increasing access to opportunities and better connecting our regions.”
Tom Joyner, CrossCountry’s Managing Director, said:
“We are delighted to now be able to get on and deliver these benefits for our customers, with improvements to the journey experience and three new community groups to bring our train services closer to the places we serve.
“Most importantly, many of our trains have become increasingly busy as more and more people choose rail for their journeys.
“This delivers the biggest increase in seats for our services in more than 13 years, helping customers enjoy a relaxing and comfortable journey every day. These improvements will deliver an immediate boost for rail users in the Midlands, with the promise of even more to come on other routes in the near future.”
Investment will also be made to expand CrossCountry’s seat reservation service to allow passengers to reserve a seat on most services to ensure they can travel in comfort for their journey, as well as to reserve a space for their bike. The investment will also improve communication and signage, pointing to places where luggage can be stored during a journey, both when travelling and as they board the train.
Three recently established Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) – groups of committed and dedicated people who work with the rail industry and local authorities to promote the line and improve stations, train services, bus links and access – are also being supported. The CRPs for Worcestershire, Heart of England and Bolton will receive financial support to deliver initiatives to benefit local communities, stations and train services.
The funding from government follows an agreement to extend the CrossCountry franchise last summer to October 2020.