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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/accessible-rail-transport/accessible-rail-transport
The Equality Act 2010 requires all station operators to take reasonable steps to ensure that they do not discriminate against disabled people. Our code of practice provides guidance to all station operators on the standards required so that they continue to improve access to their services. As part of a train operating companies’ licence, they must adhere to the standards sets out in this code.
Train and station operators are required by their operating licences to establish and comply with a disabled people’s protection policy (DPPP) which must be approved by Office of Rail and Road (ORR). A DPPP sets out the arrangements and assistance that an operator will provide to protect the interests of older and disabled people using its services. When approving DPPPs ORR will have regard to the 2009 Department for Transport (DfT) guidance on How to write your disabled people’s protection policy.
Access for All programme
Launched as part of the 2006 Railways for All Strategy, Access for All funding is being used to provide accessible routes at our busiest inaccessible stations.
The Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011 set out the accessibility requirements for heavy rail in the form of the persons with reduced mobility technical specification for interoperability.
The Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Non Interoperable Rail System) Regulations 2010 (RVAR 2010) set out the accessibility requirements for light rail and metro systems.
Both sets of regulations require that all rail vehicles must be accessible by no later than 1 January 2020.
Background to rail vehicle accessibility standards
Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (RVAR) have applied to all new rail vehicles entering service in Great Britain since 31 December 1998. They standardised the requirements to meet the needs of disabled passengers. This includes, for example:
- providing access for wheelchair users
- the size and location of handrails, handholds and control devices
- providing passenger information systems and other equipment
The original RVAR 1998 were replaced by the RVAR 2010. They were replaced because a new European accessibility standard came into force on 1 July 2008 for heavy rail operations. This new standard is known as the technical specification for interoperability for persons with reduced mobility (PRM-TSI). The PRM-TSI applies to all trains used on the interoperable rail system, which comprises the major lines of all Network Rail infrastructure. It sets standards for accessible trains, stations and other facilities. The Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011 applied this technical specification for interoperability in the United Kingdom. RVAR 2010 continues to set accessibility standards for light rail and metro operations entering service after 31 December 1998.
RVAR 2010 and the PRM-TSI also apply to rail vehicles introduced before 1999 when they undergo refurbishment.
Working towards making trains fully accessible by 2020
While the latest fleets of trains are fully compliant with accessibility requirements, there are still trains in service that are not fully compliant. It’s too expensive to withdraw and update these trains, so effort is being concentrated on those non-compliances which truly prevent disabled people from accessing trains.
We are working with the rail industry and the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) to identify areas where compliance will be required by 2020. Details about targeted compliance on heavy rail fleets is available.
While accessible rail fleet will be achieved by 1 January 2020, it is likely that a small number of trains will not fully comply with the PRM-TSI or RVAR by then. Inevitably, some dispensations and exemptions will remain necessary. DfT is working with the rail industry and DPTAC to keep these to a minimum.
Contact the RVAR team
For more information on rail vehicle accessibility, please contact the RVAR team at email@example.com.
Rail vehicle/platform gaps
In 2005, DfT published research into platform gaps at rail stations. The study was commissioned to gain a better understanding of what constitutes an acceptable gap between step and platform for disabled passengers, amongst others. It also provided recommendations for the future.
Warnings for sensory impaired people
DfT published research into Train door warning systems for sensory impaired people in 2005. The PRM-TSI and RVAR 2010 require signals to be emitted when a train door can be opened or is about to close to help sensory impaired people. This research was conducted to establish whether such visual and audible warnings work, and if so, the best location and duration of the warning.