HC Deb 30 April 2001 vol 367 cc461-2W
Mrs. Dunwoody

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what measures he has taken to ensure that the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1994 will be met by the railway industry by the 2004 deadline. [158834]

Mr. Hill

The provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) will require that, from 2004, service providers take reasonable steps to remove physical barriers to access. The Act does not set prescriptive accessibility requirements but the Disability Rights Commission will be publishing a revised Code of Practice which will give guidance on the new duties.

In addition, my Department is producing a guidance document "Inclusive Mobility: A Guide to Best Practice on Access to Pedestrian and Transport Infrastructure", which will be available shortly. It is intended to give guidance to transport operators and local authorities on current best practice to help them in preparing to meet the requirements of the DDA.

When assessing bids for replacement franchises, the Strategic Rail Authority will consider better access to the network, particularly for disabled people. All proposals will be tested for compliance with the SRA's Code of Practice (which was transferred from the Office of the Rail Regulator and is currently being revised).

More generally, our Ten Year Transport Plan "Transport 2010", published in July 2000, demonstrates the Government's continued commitment to improving accessibility. The rate and level of new investment will ensure that improvements in the accessibility of transport are brought forward more quickly. The Plan is also clear that building in accessibility for disabled people in all investment is a condition of public money being spent.