by Josephine Cordero Sapién
02 Mar 2021
Tens of thousands of passenger-facing railway staff are receiving disability awareness and equality training as part of requirements outlined in the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) guidance.
By the end of this year almost 30,000 railway staff will have received the training. It is aimed at teaching staff how to communicate effectively with disabled passengers, and understand their challenges while travelling. The training will also refresh their knowledge and skills to allow them to provide effective assistance when necessary.
All 24 train and station operators are participating in this training and most of them are on track to meet their commitments by the end of July, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Great Western Railway has already met its target of training all of its 4,600 frontline staff.
13 train and station operators have created new courses that can be used to train new staff and provide refresher training for existing staff. 11 train operators are extending the training from frontline staff to all employees.
A central aspect of the programme has been the involvement of disabled people both in developing and delivering the training.
“It’s a privilege to lead teams of disabled trainers to facilitate discussions which challenge outdated perceptions, and support staff to understand what the 21st century disabled consumer expects. As a disabled rail passenger myself, I’m confident that with the right supportive culture, rather than seeing us as ‘tasks’, we’ll see a stronger shift to valuing our end-to-end customer experience.”
In July 2020 the ORR had expressed concerns about gaps in training materials and plans submitted by operators. At the time only four of the 24 operators provided enough evidence to assure the ORR that they would be able to meet the mandatory training requirements by July 2021. The ORR also believed a further eight operators would be able to meet the requirements with additional material submitted.
The ORR is now also confident the remaining 12 operators will meet the ATP commitments.
“ORR wants all passengers to be able to travel safely with confidence and with ease. Introducing obligations on train and station operators to provide up-to-date, regular disability awareness and equality training to their staff is part of our broad package of measures to improve the experience of disabled passengers.
“Despite our initial concerns about progress in designing and delivering compliant training packages, the picture has become much more positive over the last six months, with the process of training tens of thousands of staff now well under way.”
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