Safe access for disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility continues to be an issue affecting thousands of passengers on British railways each year.
From 1st January 2020, all rail operators will be legally required to ensure all trains are fully accessible for disabled passengers, or face a fine.
According to the Papworth Trust Facts and Figures 2018 report on Disability in the United Kingdom, there are 13.3 million people with reduced mobility living in the UK, who make up around 20% of the overall population.
The Trust also reported that as of July 2017, just 75% of trains were accessible to people with reduced mobility and disabilities, with around 1.2 million passengers assisted in 2016/2017.
One of the key accessibility barriers identified in the report is the lack of consistency in delivery of the services and facilities. This may be because equipment, facilities or services are not always readily available to assist people getting on and off trains.
The statistics revealed in the report do indicate a positive step towards making trains and stations more accessible to all, but the report also shows there is much room for improvement to ensure total compliance.
What’s more, the Department for Transport has implemented a deadline of 1st January 2020 for all operators to ensure full compliance with the relevant accessibility legislation.
Though new trains are designed and built to be fully compliant to the Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Non-Interoperable Rail System) Regulations 2010 (RVAR 2010), the standard to which all trains on the rail system must be compliant, many older trains in service do not meet this standard.
The RVAR 2010, as well as the related Persons of Reduced Mobility Technical Specification for Interoperability (PRM TSI) regulations, require operators to put features in place that make their trains easier to use.
Examples include handholds, information displays, priority seats and compliant ramps for wheelchair users.
A summary of the rail vehicle accessibility legislation from the Office of Rail and Road breaks the requirements down into four main points:
Compliance to these regulations must be met no later than 1st January 2020, after which fines may be levied against operators who have failed in their responsibilities.
One of the simplest and most efficient remedies for non-compliance comes in the form of boarding aids such as portable ramps, which provide safe passage on and off trains for both user and operator.
Portable ramps can be used on existing trains and platforms without integration during the design phase, and can be safely stored on the platform or train itself when not in use. There are some simple guidelines you can follow to ensure the ramp you choose will be compliant.
Choosing a ramp
If you are responsible for selecting the correct ramp for use on your platforms, the ramp you choose should:
Compliance is not quite as straightforward as just buying a few ramps, however. In an ideal world, all stations would be identical, with each platform and carriage a standard height, but this is unfortunately not the case.
Entrances and heights can vary from operator to operator and train to train, meaning ramp requirements can differ wildly.
Time for boarding and alighting is also a factor, meaning ramps need to not only be available on the train or platform, but also maintained regularly and in good working order so they can be positioned and deployed easily and quickly each time.
Last but not least, functionality and durability of the chosen ramp is vital. An unsafe ramp is far more dangerous than no ramp at all.
The Portaramp solution
Portaramp works closely with Train Operating Companies and Stakeholders across the UK to ensure our rail ramps are suitable for the station in which they are used, and approved to relevant standards.
We are recognised throughout the UK and Europe as a market leader in Access Ramp solutions, and our aim to ensure all rail companies meet their responsibilities and make trains and stations easily accessible for their passengers, by supplying compliant boarding ramps before the 1st January 2020 deadline.