HC Deb 08 July 1996 vol 281 c67W
Mr. Sheerman

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps his Department is taking to improve the access to train services for disabled people at unmanned stations; [35474]

(2) what measures he plans to ensure disabled access to train services at unmanned train stations. [35484]

Mr. Watts

Under the Railways Act 1993, the Rail Regulator has a duty to protect the interests of disabled rail passengers. All train and station operators are required to submit for the Rail Regulator's approval a disabled people's protection policy, as a condition of being granted a licence to operate. Many franchise operators have committed to improving access for disabled passengers. For example, GNR has committed to spending an additional £400,000 per year on improving access to its stations for disabled passengers. Prism Rail plc will spend £14 million on station improvements which will include improved facilities for disabled passengers.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 provides the Secretary of State with powers to make regulations to require that new public transport vehicles are accessible to disabled people. The Act will apply to new rail vehicles, as well as to buses, coaches and taxis. Discussions have begun with the rail industry and the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee about the shape of the new regulations. The issue of rail vehicles serving unstaffed or partially staffed stations will be considered in that context.