GTR staff with wheelchair ramp at London Bridge

UK: All customer-facing Govia Thameslink Railway staff have now participated in disability equality courses delivered by experts who are themselves disabled, and the programme is being expanded to all the operator’s staff including the board.

The courses are delivered by a company owned by wheelchair-using accessibility and inclusion specialist Sarah Rennie. They explore the barriers that customers can face, how to offer assistance and how to communicate effectively.

Accessibility trainer Sarah Rennie at desk

Customer-facing staff are also receiving additional training in putting down ramps from trains to platforms, pushing wheelchair users and guiding a blind or partially-sighted person.

Rennie explained that not everything staff had previously been taught about disabled customers had come from people who were disabled, ‘which isn’t great’. The new training sessions were ‘a step change’, which would help changing working practices. ‘All credit to GTR for bringing in disabled trainers’, she said.

GTR Chief Operating Officer Steve White said ‘the number of people travelling with us and needing assistance has fallen by almost 90% on our trains. Obviously, that’s down to the pandemic but the fall-off is much greater in this group of customers. That’s why we’ve been busy in lockdown, investing in disabled trainers to make a real difference as we strive to improve our service.’