The Disabled People’s Protection Policy is a policy required by law of train and station operators that sets out how they interact with and protect disabled members of the public. Each DPPP is approved by the Office of Rail and Road, and has to meet minimum standards.
Disabled People’s Rights
Train and station operators are bound by law to comply with their DPPP, so it’s serious business. For a long time the rights of disabled people were ignored, and especially on trains. It was a very isolating and difficult experience for many disabled people to be unable to use the train services, so the protections laid down in law have been a very welcome change.
In the DPPP there is detail of how the operator plans to assist disabled people in their use of the train service the operator provides. If they have said they are going to do it in the DPPP, you can hold them to it. If they fail to uphold their policies, you have legal recourse against them. This has been instrumental in the widening of access for disabled people across the train system.
The Government sets out very clear guidelines on what the DPPP should include. For anybody concerned with disabled access and rights on the train lines, it is helpful to know what the Government expects the operators to do.
For example, the operator is expected to provide adequate assistance to anybody with a disability when they are using their services. This means ramps for wheelchair and mobility scooter access, seating for elderly and disabled passengers with adequate space and access, wheelchair access in stations and across trains, disabled access toilets and more.
Review and Monitoring
Compliance with the DPPP is constantly under scrutiny, with regulators from the state doing a number of checks and reports in a year to establish whether the policies are being applied consistently, fairly and properly. Things have improved in recent years but the case seems to be that, while the policies are in general being applied successfully, there is still a level of inconsistency that is unacceptable.
Passengers who need assistance during their journey can apply for a Passenger Assist. This means that (when booked in advance, this doesn’t need to be 24 hours), assistance from the operator should be available at every station to help you book tickets, plan your trip or make reservations, as well as helping you find the right platform or seat.
Passenger Assist is free to anyone who needs assistance due to a disability, their age or temporary impairment. Contact the operator you plan to travel with to arrange assistance.
Alternative Accessible Transport
If a train station is inaccessible, alternative travel arrangements have been made due to the train not being available, or short term disruption makes the rail service inaccessible to disabled persons, the operator must provide alternative accessible transport.
This is transport that the disabled person can access and that will take them to the nearest suitable station to continue with their journey. This is a free service and can be arranged by talking to staff either by phone, on the website or at the station.
Visual and aural information should be clearly available at stations, allowing people with impaired sight and hearing to use the services without problems.
Staff should be available to assist with luggage, which can be difficult to manage for many disabled people. The Passenger Assist service should be booked in advance to ensure there are staff available to help.
All manned stations should have ramps for boarding and disembarking the train that are fit for purpose. Where stations are unmanned, contact the operator beforehand to arrange a ramp to be available.
If a disabled passenger cannot buy a ticket at a station, the operator must arrange for a ticket to be purchased, penalty-free, on the train or at the destination.
Most operators allow for mobility scooters no larger than 1.2 x 0.7 metres and 300kg in weight, though some require a permit to be obtained before travelling. These can be found online at the operator’s website, by phone or at some stations. Be sure to check the policy in the DPPP before travelling.
These are the basic requirements of the DPPP, many operators go above and beyond in their service to help disabled people, while others are somewhat lacking on occasion. As always, if you can, call ahead and book assistance if you need it.
Disabled People’s Protection Policy – http://orr.gov.uk/rail/licensing/licensing-the-railway/disabled-peoples-protection-policy