I have today joined forces with the rail industry to encourage more disabled people in Thirsk and Malton to travel by train using the Disabled Persons Railcard, which offers a third off journeys. I was pleased to attend a parliamentary event on accessibility and inclusion in rail, hosted by the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail. The event showcased the work the rail industry is doing to change and improve the network to make it more accessible. This includes enabling disabled people to make more discounted journeys with the Disabled Persons Railcard.
Last year 6730 journeys starting from Thirsk and Malton were made using the Railcard, up from 4223 in 2015. This compares to a 43% increase across the country as a whole, with Disabled Persons Railcard journeys rising from 5 million in 2015 to 7 million in 2019. The Disabled Persons Railcard offers a third off adult rail fares at any time on the National Rail network for people with a disability, plus a companion. On average, passengers with the Disabled Persons Railcard save £108 a year, even after the £20 cost of the card is factored in.
Everyone in Thirsk and Malton should have the opportunity to travel by train and today’s event shows the rail industry is working hard to improve accessibility across the country and make the railway easier for everyone to use. I'm pleased to work with the rail companies to raise awareness of the discounts offered by the Disabled Persons Railcard and hope more people will benefit from big savings that can be made. It chimes well with an adjournment debate that I have tabled this week on disabled access to Thirsk railway station. The disabled access at Thirsk is very poor. People have to use the existing old and well-worn stairs to reach the far platform and wheelchair users have to use the railway crossing directly over the railway line, which is a traumatic experience. The Disabled Persons Railcard is a great idea, but not much good if people can’t get on the trains to use them.
Jac Starr, chief operating officer at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies and Network Rail, said: “We're working hard to improve the railway, making more stations step-free and adding thousands of new and refurbished carriages which are more accessible. While record numbers of people are saving money with the Disabled Persons Railcard, we want everyone to benefit from the improvements we’re making which is why we're encouraging eligible disabled people to sign up for a card and save on their journeys.”
Transport Accessibility Minster Nusrat Ghani said: “We are absolutely committed to improving the experience of disabled passengers across our network. Working alongside the Rail Delivery Group and Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, we are currently reviewing the eligibility criteria of the Disabled Persons Railcard, looking at how we can improve provisions for carers or companions. We also recently announced the 73 stations receiving a share of £300m of Access for All funding, as we work towards an entirely accessible transport network by 2030 with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier.”