YORK railway station has been named the most accessible station for disabled travellers anywhere in the country.
The survey by Transreport - which offers a ‘passenger assistance’ app designed to help passengers with disabilities plan their journeys - is based on data about requests for assistance made to railway staff combined with other rankings from disability / accessibility organisations.
It places York railway station well ahead of big city stations such as Birmingham New Street, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester Piccadilly and Bristol Temple Meads.
The station’s high accessibility rating does not surprise Flick Williams, a wheelchair-using York disability campaigner.
But she added it was a ‘shame’ that the same could not be said of the city centre itself - a reference to the claim that many disabled people feel they have been effectively barred from the city centre by the ban on blue badge parking.
Flick said: “The station has done a lot of work recently on improving access.
“The signage and wayfinding is much better, there are touchable maps for visually impaired people, and a ‘changing places’ toilet (a very large, accessible toilet for people with severe disabilities)’.
Best of all, Flick said there were no ticket barriers.
“The fact it is barrier-free is hugely beneficial for people in wheelchairs, because they don’t have to grapple with the barriers.
“Very often, when you go to a station that has them, the wheelchair-accessible barrier won’t open with your ticket and you have to get an attendant to help.”
The much-heralded railway station improvements being planned, Flick said, would actually make things worse for disabled passengers, however, rather than better.
At the moment, blue badge parking in the short-stay car park is very handy, she said.
“That’s going to be lost to Tea Room Square.”
The drop-off point for taxis would also be further away from the station’s main entrance following the changes, she added.
Nevertheless, she said, the station has to be ‘commended’ for its recent efforts to improve accessibility.
But she added: “It is a shame that once people emerge from the station, the city centre is not so accessible to them.”
Transreport says one in five people in the UK have some form of disability. There are about 1.2 million wheelchair users in the country - and more than 7,000 people who rely on highly trained assistance dogs, it says.
The UK’s 10 most accessible stations were: 1. York 2. Reading 3. Birmingham New Street 4. Leicester 5. Newcastle 6. Bath Spa 7. Manchester Picc 8. Nottingham 9. Leeds 10. Brighton
Claire Ansley, Customer Experience and People Director at LNER, which runs York Station, said she ws ‘proud’ that the station’s accessibility had been acknowledged.
“It is important to us that all of our customers enjoy the best possible experience when travelling with LNER,” she said.
“We continue to innovate and work hard to make our stations and trains accessible, safe, and comfortable for everyone and we are proud to receive this recognition.”