Paralympian chairs new panel to improve accessibility on rail network

The first meeting of the Accessible Travel Advisory Group (ATAP) – set up to improve the accessibility of rail journeys on the Southeastern network – took place on August 5.

Chaired by former Paralympian Andy Barrow, the ATAP is made up of 15 members with a lived experience of accessibility issues.

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Mr Barrow was joined on his journey into central London on a Southeastern train by the Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, whose remit includes the accessibility of the railway, and David Wornham, from Southeastern.

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Mr Barrow and Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, alongside David Wornham from Southeastern, took part in a discussion on how best to boost access to the rail network for disabled passengers.

Accessible Travel Advisory Panel Chair, Andy Barrow said: “I’m passionate about people with any kind of impairment having full parity when using the rail network. I’ve been working closely with Southeastern to help their staff empathise with the day to day challenges that people can experience when travelling by train.

“Southeastern is making strides in how it responds to the needs of people with different access needs, but recognises that there’s more to do, and so when our findings are acted upon, the changes made will have a lasting and meaningful impact.”

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Chris Heaton-Harris said: “I was delighted to attend Southeastern’s panel today and hear from such a wide variety of people with lived experience of accessibility issues.

“It’s vital that we continue to have these discussions as we make critical accessibility improvements across our transport network.”

Southeastern Passenger Services Director, David Wornham said: “At Southeastern, our aim is to involve disabled people at an early stage of decision-making, and this panel is part of our ongoing commitment to make stations and trains across the network open to all.

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“The panel will provide teams across Southeastern with informed opinions and guidance on upcoming projects as the members share their lived experiences, highlighting potential improvements or issues that may not otherwise have been considered.”

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Sam Hewitt