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Greater Anglia shows off trains to passengers with disabilities at factory

PUBLISHED: 13:59 02 August 2018

Dominic Lund-Conlon, Chris Sawkins, Terri Sawkins, testing low floor access at the Stadler factory. Picture: NICK STRUGNELL/GREATER ANGLIA

Dominic Lund-Conlon, Chris Sawkins, Terri Sawkins, testing low floor access at the Stadler factory. Picture: NICK STRUGNELL/GREATER ANGLIA

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Rail passengers with disabilities have been given an early demonstration of the new InterCity and regional trains being built for Greater Anglia in Switzerland.

Guide dog Legend explores the new Greater Anglia train being built in Switzerland. Picture: NICK STRUGNELL/GREATER ANGLIAGuide dog Legend explores the new Greater Anglia train being built in Switzerland. Picture: NICK STRUGNELL/GREATER ANGLIA

The rail company took a wheelchair user, a blind person and a visually impaired man with a guide dog to visit Stadler in Switzerland, where 58 of the company’s new trains are being made.

During a previous visit, the group had suggested a number of different adjustments to the design of the trains to make them easier to use for disabled people.

They were told that the Swiss train manufacturer was able to incorporate the majority of their suggestions, including installing an additional emergency button at floor level in the accessible toilet and installing a “modesty screen” between a raised section of seating and a disabled section on the trains.

The group got to see some of those adjustments. They also tested prototype ramps and suggested modifications to the design to make it easier for wheelchair-users to get on and off the trains.

Wheelchair-user Dominic Lund-Conlon, Transport Project Lead at Essex County Council, said: “Achieving the standards set out in law is one thing. Greater Anglia has gone much further than this, working in partnership with stakeholders to achieve a train that will work across much of the disability spectrum as possible.

“They have actually listened and implemented recommendations from the disability professionals. The result so far is impressive and I can’t wait to see the new trains arrive in the UK later this year.”

Jim Watt, a visually impaired passenger, who took his guide dog, Legend, on the trip, said: “I’m pleased that Greater Anglia has listened to disabled passengers. They are genuinely listening to us and taking positive action. “

Each of the new Stadler trains will have low floors and retractable steps to cover any gap between the train and the platform, to make it easier for customers to board trains.

There will be one accessible toilet on every train and designated seating areas, with tables, for wheelchair users.

Rebecca Richardson, Greater Anglia Accessibility Manager, said: “We’re very grateful to this group for their incredibly valuable advice and insight which is helping us to make our new trains suitable for disabled rail passengers.”

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