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Railways: Disabled

Volume 487: debated on Monday 9 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to provide high-quality and integrated disabled passenger assistance on the rail network. (254440)

The Railways for All strategy, published in March 2006, identifies the importance of improved information, ticketing and assistance to improving access to the railway network.

Front-line railway staff are trained in disability awareness and will always endeavour to help disabled customers. Assistance can also be booked in advance using the Assisted Passenger Reservation Service (APRS) which is owned and maintained by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).

Access for All funding of £280,000 has already been provided to ATOC towards development of staff training materials, and a programme of station access audits to improve the quality of information available through the National Rail Enquiry Service.

In addition the £370 million Access for All programme is making enhancements to railway stations which help to promote independent travel for disabled people.

In light of passenger feedback, and in particular the recent Passenger Focus report into Assisted Passenger Reservation Service bookings, published in September 2008, the Department for Transport intends to work with the industry to address potential areas for improvement to the Assisted Passenger Reservation Service system, and to identify what resources may be available to support this.