Southeastern to make trains more accessible for disabled passengers

  • Full report by ITV News Meridian's Abigail Bracken

Rail operator South Eastern has announced it will be implementing new measures to make their service more accessible.

This includes giving disability awareness training to all of its four and a half thousand members of staff.

On top of this, the train operator will now employ staff who can travel with disabled passengers. There will also be a new mobile app released next month for booking help.  

Not all train stations have adequate facilities for commuters in wheelchairs Credit: ITV News Meridian

Andy Barrow is a Paralympian wheelchair rugby player and has travelled around the world for three Paralympics and hopes Southeastern can make trains at home more accessible.  

  • Andy Barrow, Paralympian wheelchair rugby player

He said: "There's a large amount of planning involved, we can't just travel spontaneously, like other people can, which is quite difficult for us so our aim is to have everyone be able to just turn up and go, but obviously the platform train interface, the fact that there is a  step up to get into trains is always going to be a difficult thing."

1 in 10

Rail passengers are disabled

Sue Groves is a disability campaigner from Kent and has had many problems when commuting using a wheelchair in the past.

She said: "The biggest thing is communication among the railway staff but also treating disabled passengers with respect and dignity, you know, just missing a station like that can be quite traumatic."

  • Sue Groves, Disability campaigner

At the moment, If you're a disabled person and you need assistance getting on and off a train, then you need to book that assistance 12 hours in advance. From April it'll be 6 hours in advance and next year it'll be two hours.  

Paul Prentice, an employee of Southeastern says the app is the key to providing a more inclusive service for disabled commuters in the future.

"We have an app, a passenger assist app which is going to be improved more and more over the coming months to ensure people can travel with confidence "

  • Paul Prentice, Southeastern

The app is hoped to not only benefit passengers at the larger stations but also at the smaller, unstaffed stations in the future.