National blindness charities are calling for the government to improve safety measures at UK rail stations as it was revealed crucial “tactile surfaces” may not be rolled out until 2029.
While the government pledge on tactile surfaces, released as part of the National Disability Strategy on July 28, included mentions of “fast-tracked improvements” and an “accelerated upgrade of rail station platforms with tactile paving,” no commitment or renewed timescale has been set out.
Eleanor Thompson, head of policy and public affairs at the Royal National Institute of Blind People said:
“Despite being a fundamental safety measure, around half of mainline railway stations in Britain lack tactile. This is completely unacceptable. While we are pleased to see promises in the National Disability Strategy to accelerate the roll out of tactile, we still don’t know when this will be completed. It is critical the Department for Transport secures further funding from the Treasury so Network Rail can accelerate the pace of the work and make all stations across Britain safe and accessible for blind and partially sighted rail passengers.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson told The Big Issue they anticipated the work installing tactile surfaces at most stations to be complete before 2029.
“As a visually impaired person and a guide dog owner, I need to feel safe at any train station. If I go to a station that has no tactile markings, I simply do not feel safe, as I don’t know if I am getting too near to the platform edge.Sarah Leadbetter, national campaigns officer at NFBUKSarah Leadbetter, national campaigns officer at NFBUK
RNIB delivered a petition for tactile surfaces to the Department for Transport on July 21, before the publication of the National Disability Strategy. They are now planning on launching a campaign encouraging people to get in touch with their MP regarding faster implementation.