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Disabled Give Thameslink a Helping Hand

09 July 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

Volunteers have been helping the Thameslink Programme test a new platform surface being developed to help make the railway more accessible.

Mock-up platforms were built in a central London yard, metres from where Thameslink services will run in 2018, to allow members of the Network Rail Built Environment Accessibility Panel (BEAP) to give feedback on how they could be improved.

Network Rail supplier Pipex px is developing a raised platform surface – Platform Level Access ‘PLA’ – HUMP – to be installed at Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, and the Thameslink platforms at St Pancras and London Bridge. This will provide step-free access to accessible carriages on Thameslink trains and other rolling stock that may use the dedicated Thameslink platforms.

Volunteers included Tracey Dearing, who is partially sighted (pictured) and Sue Groves, who uses a wheelchair. “This is a very positive approach and something that’s been needed for a long time,” she stated. “Our input means we can help designers build on the existing standards to create something that works really well. It’s not about regulations, it’s about real people.”

Feedback received on the day included responses to the gap between the train and the platform and the colour of the tactile paving which is particularly helpful to partially sighted passengers.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for us to try this option and offer some constructive feedback on the proposals,” said Margaret Hickish, Access and Inclusion Manager Network Rail and herself a wheelchair user. “It’s useful for us to understand the challenges of the designers and for them to understand the challenges we face. Many people who are mobility impaired are actually made disabled by the built environment and we can change that.”

Ms Hickish went on to state that the opportunity showed the feedback was “invaluable”. It had allowed the Design team to consider the feedback and where necessary, refine the product to ensure it was fit-for-purpose. “Understanding end user specific requirements is a fundamental part of the design process and this specific engineered option. The assessment has provided a great deal of confidence with the overall product design which has been a two-year development project. Pipex is very much looking forward to the opportunity to provide step-free access on the Thameslink network and improve the accessibility for PRM passengers.”

Picture: Feedback from disabled volunteers using mock up platforms has been invaluable for Network Rail

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 09 July 2015


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