Disabled people cannot use over 40% of Great Britain’s train stations

29 November 2018

More than 40 per cent of railway stations across England, Scotland and Wales do not have step-free access, leaving physically disabled people unable to travel by train.

Everyone has the right to get to work and visit their friends and family as they choose, but the lack of step-free access at train stations is barring disabled people from travelling independently.

Vinny, one of our campaigners, standing next to a train

Many disabled people also face difficulties planning travel, due to the unclear information on step-free access from National Rail.

Even at stations with step-free access, often a ramp is still needed to get from the platform to the train. This needs extra assistance, which is not always available, making it impossible for disabled people to travel spontaneously.

Vinny, who lives in Liverpool, comments on the challenges he faces when travelling by train:

‘I would like to rely on trains more to get around. But I can’t physically get into some stations and transferring between trains is often very difficult.

‘Steps are a really big issue for me. It means you have to consider which jobs to go for, because some are just not an option.

‘If someone offered you a promotion and you think there’s a train station around the corner, but then you scope it out and it’s actually too far or there are steps, then it will make the difference between going for the job or not.’

The latest findings follow research by Leonard Cheshire earlier this year that more than a third (35 per cent) of working age disabled people have experienced problems using trains in the last year as a result of their disability.

Hannah, one of our campaigners, at a train station

Hannah, from Cheshire, uses a wheelchair and relies on trains to be able to visit her friends in London.

She says:

‘I have made quite a few journeys by train in the last couple of years and have found that it takes meticulous planning to organise each trip.

‘I’m lucky that my local station is accessible, but that is not always the case at my destination.

‘The lack of consistent step-free access at stations across the country makes journeys at best, a logistical challenge, and at worst, impossible to achieve.’

Leonard Cheshire is campaigning for the government and rail operators to make all stations fit for use by disabled people — this includes making sure every station has step-free access from the station to the train.

The charity is calling on people across the country to write to their local rail operating providers to fulfil their duty to disabled passengers and provide step-free access at their train stations.

Neil Heslop, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, said:

‘Poor public transport is forcing disabled people to miss out on every day events which others take for granted — from employment opportunities to social events.

‘Disabled people cannot continue to put their lives on hold. Rail operators must make it their absolute priority to ensure that their train stations have step-free access, so that all their customers can travel as they choose.’

Media enquiries

For further information, photos and interview requests, please contact: Danielle Mendel on danielle.mendel@leonardcheshire.org or 020 3242 0204

Notes to editors

*Research and analysis carried out by Leonard Cheshire based on data provided by Office of Rail and Road. Accessibility and mobility data available per station published on National Rail website, accessed October 2018.

  • Steps prevent disabled people from using 40 per cent of Great Britain’s railway stations, according to research published by disability charity Leonard Cheshire.*
  • The research reveals 40 per cent of stations in England, 50 per cent of stations in Scotland and 32 per cent of stations in Wales do not have full step-free access available for disabled people.