Access for All Benefit Research Report released

“Access for All” is a DfT funded programme to improve accessibility at key stations on the rail network. It provides for obstacle-free movement around stations, together with complementary improvements, making it easier for disabled passengers to travel by rail.

In 2014, Steer Davies Gleave, as a subcontractor to Parsons Brinckerhoff WSP, was commissioned to undertake an evaluation of the programme based on WebTAG guidance.* The aim of this study was firstly to assess and quantify the benefits of the A4A programme to passengers and train operators; and secondly to consider how the programme could be improved to maximise these benefits.

The resulting report shows that the A4A programme overall has a positive business case with a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 2.4:1, rising to a high of over 11:1 for one station in particular (Vauxhall).

Underlying the headline figure are some other valuable findings which can help enhance the future of this programme, and also station improvements more widely. For example, an important learning point highlighted by this research is the importance of information and communication to support improved infrastructure investment such as new lifts or foot bridges. This includes both information at the station before and after the improvement works, and also the need to reach out further into the communities served by the station in order to reach people that might not travel by rail through fear of not being able to move easily around the station and onto their train.

Another interesting point highlighted in the report is that not only passengers with disabilities benefit from the accessibility improvements to a station, but also there is a substantial benefit for those passengers carrying luggage or travelling with small children.
The overall message though is that passengers at stations with Access for All improvements are supportive of the programme, with those with a disability being particularly positive concerning its effect on station use. While not by any means being the whole answer, the A4A programme is a vital step towards having railways for all.

The report of the results has now been published.

*WebTAG (Web-based Transport Analysis Guidance) is the Department’s transport appraisal guidance and toolkit which in this instance has been used as a best practice guide.

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