UK: Greater Anglia recently took a wheelchair-using passenger, a blind person and a visually impaired person plus his guide dog to Stadler’s factory at Bussnang in Switzerland to test prototype ramps for the future Flirt UK multiple-unit fleet.

During a previous visit, the group had suggested a number of adjustments to the train design to make them easier to use. These included installing an additional emergency button at floor level in the accessible toilet, installing a ‘modesty screen’ between a raised section of seating and an accessible area of the train, clearly marking the exterior to show where the disabled toilet and seating areas are located, reducing the size of the table in the wheelchair area and changing the layout of the two wheelchair spaces on the regional trainsets so that passengers can face the direction of travel.

‘Achieving the standards set out in law is one thing. Greater Anglia has gone much further than this, working in partnership with stakeholders to achieve a train that will work across much of the disability spectrum as possible’, said Dominic Lund-Conlon, Transport Project Lead at Essex County Council and a wheelchair user. ‘They have actually listened and implemented recommendations from the disability professionals. The result so far is impressive and I can’t wait to see the new trains arrive.’