Network Rail aims for ‘inclusive design’ to make disabled people part of its initial design strategy
Network Rail is bolstering its promise to make its railways more accessible for people with disabilities via a new campaign that challenges its historic ‘bolt-on’ culture of adding services retrospectively.
With two-thirds (67 per cent) of disabled people saying they use Network Rail’s services, the Spaces and Places for Everyone campaign, which features disabled comic Francesca Martinez, aims to set out how it will make the railway more inclusive for every passenger.
Network Rail, which is responsible for managing 20,000 miles of railway and some of Britain’s biggest and busiest stations, said that it “is committed to inclusive design”, which means it will put all passengers at the heart of the design process rather than adding on provisions at a later stage.
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail said: Most of today’s railway was designed during the Victorian era when attitudes towards disability were very different. Since then, access for disabled people has been tagged on at a later stage, rather than being a part of the initial design strategy for our railway. We know it hasn’t been good enough in the past, and we need to make it easier for disabled people to plan journeys and travel by rail.
“We are committed to changing this, and doing what is necessary to make sure that inclusivity is deeply embedded in our culture. Only then will our railway be a place where everyone can travel equally, confidently and independently.”
Under the strategy Network Rail has so far created a dog ‘spending area’ at Birmingham New Street where guide dogs can ‘spend a penny’; developed the option for visually impaired people to use an audio guide to navigate through Reading station and built lifts and escalators to all platforms at London Bridge.