Network Rail unveils station accessibility plans
This follows Bristol Sight Council working closely with Network Rail to launch a first-of-its-kind audio guide to assist blind and partially sighted people to navigate around Bristol Temple Meads railway station.
The guide comprises 12 audio files accessible from any personal device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Each file guides the listener safely through a section of the station, making it far easier to navigate for blind and partially sighted people.
Network Rail’s response
The reply reports how the clear benefits of this project inspired and challenged Network Rail to consider how they can better support blind and partially sighted people to navigate their stations with increased independence and confidence.
The letter also reveals that Network Rail intends to increase accessibility through the roll out the ‘GoodMaps’ indoor navigation app across their network. This app can locate a passenger’s location in the station via their smartphone. This is done by comparing the location and surroundings to pre-recorded station mapping. Then, via a visual and audio map, the app talks a customer through the route across a station.
Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street, Birmingham New Street and London Euston all now have this technology available in their stations. There are plans to expand this even further, and you can find out about them by reading the letter below.
Our priority transport campaign
Sight Loss Councils’ national priority campaign this year is transport, and both trains and train stations form a key part of that. This is because transport was fed back as a key priority as part of our Listening Month campaign. Trains are a great transport solution for blind and partially sighted people. But more must be done to ensure they can rely on accessible trains, starting at the stations.
Government research shows many blind and partially sighted people simply avoid travelling by rail due to accessibility issues. The rates of travel among those with mobility difficulties is staggering low.
In light of this priority, Sight Loss Councils have also offered to continue to work with Network Rail. This is to explore how we can support their wider work to improve accessibility of the railway network for blind and partially sighted people across the country.
Publication date: 09 May 2023