Greater Anglia utilises ECL staff knowledge on new trains currently being built in Switzerland

Greater Anglia seek to make trains more disability-friendly by inviting a group of disabled passengers to impart knowledge and have their say.

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A group of disabled rail passengers and professionals has just come back from Switzerland where Greater Anglia showed them accessible features on its new trains and asked them to test new prototype ramps.

Part of this group was Terri Sawkins, Sensory Training Facilitator for ECL Sensory Service.

The train company has consulted with disabled rail passengers to make sure the new trains, which are replacing every single train on the Greater Anglia network, are suitable for customers with disabilities.

It was a great privilege to involved with the project from a sensory perspective, ensuring lighting, contrasts and visual information for sight and hearing impaired people was taken into account. These trains will be fantastic and access will be as inclusive as physically possible for all.

Terri Sawkins, Sensory Training Facilitator, ECL Sensory Service

During a previous visit, the group had suggested a number of different adjustments to the design of the Stadler trains to make them easier to use for disabled people.

On Tuesday this week, they were told that the Swiss train manufacturer was able to incorporate the majority of their suggestions, including installing an additional emergency button at floor level in the accessible toilet and installing a “modesty screen” between a raised section of seating and a disabled section on the trains.

The group got to see some of those adjustments. They also tested prototype ramps and suggested modifications to the design to make it easier for wheelchair-users to get on and off the trains.

Each of the new Stadler trains will have low floors and retractable steps to cover any gap between the train and the platform, to make it easier for customers to board trains.

There will be one accessible toilet on every train and designated seating areas, with tables, for wheelchair users.

Adjustments made on the group’s advice include:

  • Clearly marking the outside of the train to make it clear where the disabled toilet and seating area are located.
  • Changing the layout of the two wheelchair spaces on the regional trains so that passengers can travel in the direction of travel.
  • Reducing the size of the table in the wheelchair area.

We’re very grateful to this group for their incredibly valuable advice and insight which is helping us to make our new trains suitable for disabled rail passengers. They have given up a lot of their time to support us with this project and I’m certain the trains will be much the better for their input.

Rebecca Richardson, Accessibility Manager, Greater Anglia

Our focus throughout the manufacturing process is to work very closely with the client, ensuring that the needs of their passengers are taken into account. I think we can say with confidence that this sneak preview of the new trains has helped assure the disability representatives on the visit that, in future, travelling on the East Anglia network will be easier, more convenient and more pleasant for people with limited mobility.

Martino Celeghini, Project Manager, Stadler
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