Over 40% of railway stations across England, Scotland and Wales are inaccessible to disabled people due to the lack of step-free access, preventing them from traveling by train, says charity Leonard Cheshire.
They have also discovered that 35% of working-age disabled people have had problems using trains in the last year as a direct result of inaccessibility related to their disability.
Viny, who lives in Liverpool, is unable to rely on trains in order to get around, spoke of the difficulty of using the service in his area: “I would like to rely on trains more to get around. But I can’t physically get into some stations and transferring between trains is often very difficult.
“Steps are a really big issue for me. It means you have to consider which jobs to go for, because some are just not an option. If someone offered you a promotion and you think there’s a train station around the corner, but then you scope it out and it’s actually too far or there are steps, then it will make the difference between going for the job or not.”
It’s a similar story for Hannah, a wheelchair user, who relies on trains to visit her friends in London.
“I have made quite a few journeys by train in the last couple of years and have found that it takes meticulous planning to organise each trip,” said Hannah. “I’m lucky that my local station is accessible, but that is not always the case at my destination. The lack of consistent step-free access at stations across the country makes journeys at best, a logistical challenge, and at worst, impossible to achieve.”
Neil Heslop, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, said: “Poor public transport is forcing disabled people to miss out on everyday events which others take for granted – from employment opportunities to social events.
“Disabled people cannot continue to put their lives on hold. Rail operators must make it their absolute priority to ensure that their train stations have step-free access, so that all their customers can travel as they choose.”Get your copy of UNITE Magazine
Image: Leonard Cheshire