The UK Government is undertaking a nationwide accessibility audit of its railway network, as it looks to support disabled travellers returning to public transport. Consultants from Atkins have so far completed 1,000 such audits across the country.
The provision of access for people with disabilities or reduced mobility can vary considerably across Britain, depending on what type of access is considered. According to National Rail Enquiries, as of January 2019, all UK stations provided at least one type of disability access, as hearing induction loops are available in all stations across the country.
However, roughly 7% of stations had no other disability provision, and just under half provided two or three types of accessibility. In contrast, a leading 14% (360 stations) provided six or seven of the disability access forms. As the UK’s rail networks look to boost the accessibility of stations, the UK Government has commissioned a programme to boost inclusivity across the transportation network.
As part of this, engineering consultancy Atkins has completed 1,000 stations accessibility audits. The SNC-Lavalin Group member completed the 1,000th stations accessibility audit at Oban railway station in Scotland, having been appointed by the Department for Transport (DfT) to lead the work.
“Reaching this milestone in this important project marks a significant point in this project,” Sukhy Duggal, Atkins Client Director for the DfT, commented. “It will deliver the DfT with a comprehensive data set which will inform investment decisions and provide the travelling public with reliable, accessibility information that improves the passenger experience.”
Atkins was supported by a number of specialist partners over the 1,000 audits. These included global technology company ABB; software as a service business K2Fly; equality, diversity and inclusion specialists, Goss Consultancy; data management and intelligent mobility pioneers You.Smart.Thing.; surveying and sustainability engineering consultants, Crayside Consulting; survey, mapping and measurement specialists 1st Horizon as well as project and cost management consultancy CPC.
The national audit’s findings will help people with accessibility needs better plan their journeys and will help shape future investment in accessible rail travel as a part of the Government’s National Disability Strategy – improving confidence for disabled travellers as they return to public transport after the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the next two years, Atkins and its team of partners will audit the more than 2,500 stations across the UK.