Disability transport campaigners Helen Dolphin MBE and Anne Wafula-Strike MBE launch recommendations for train operators amidst COVID-19 crisis

Disability Transport Campaigners Helen Dolphin MBE and Anne Wafula-Strike MBE

Disability Transport Campaigners Helen Dolphin MBE and Anne Wafula-Strike MBE have launched their recommendation for Train Operators to ensure disabled people needing assistance feel safe whilst travelling.

Although the RDG have issued Guidelines for Social Distancing for Staff at Stations and in other Railway Environments Helen and Anne did not feel it went far enough to ensure disabled people would feel happy about travelling again.

Helen said “The guidelines from RDG states that “facemasks should not be issued to staff carrying out passenger assistance”. As a passenger who uses a wheelchair and requires assistance to get on and off the train, I would not want someone breathing on my head and not wearing a mask. This would put me off asking for assistance and stop me travelling for longer.”

Helen and Anne in consultation with other disability experts decided to put together their own recommendations for a safer passenger experience.

Anne said “ We wanted to consider the needs of all disabled passengers, not just wheelchair users. There has been an assumption that disabled people will be at home isolating for the next 12 months but many disabled people are key workers who need to travel and others just want to start travelling as soon as it is permitted. We therefore put together these recommendations to ensure everyone who wants to travel will feel as safe as possible.”

Our recommendations are as follows:

  • Staff to be issued with PPE when in close contact with disabled passengers for everyone’s safety and peace of mind
  • Staff to be informed of all station changes, such as how to buy tickets and where to queue so they can inform passengers over the phone. All this information to be easily available on the website.
  • The ability to book a seat or wheelchair space and know where it is so you can access the correct carriage without having to walk past others unnecessarily.
  • Provision of photo’s/video of station changes to be made available on the website, plus a description of the changes and information on the new rules such as the queuing systems
  • Providing information on what people can do if others aren’t following the social distancing rules
  • The ability to be met much sooner on the journey, for example at a taxi rank or bus stop as opposed to customer services
  • A reliable phone number to be made available for any passenger needing assistance
  • Information on the website on how the station/trains are being kept clean to help reassure passengers and encourage people to start travelling and feeling safe
  • Hand sanitiser available at various points in the station
  • Information available on the toilets, are they open, cleaning regimes etc..