According to the ONS Opinions Survey 2011, around a fifth of disabled people report to having difficulties related to their impairment or disability when accessing transport. Vernon Barry, Product Manager at Kee Safety, takes a look at the options for improving disabled access at train stations.
The Equality Act
Ensuring optimum safety for passengers at train stations is extremely important and with over 11 million people in Great Britain classed as disabled, there must be safety measures in place for all members of the community. The Equality Act 2010 states that measures must be in place to not discriminate against disabled people.
Government initiatives to improve access at railway stations
Without suitable handrails, ramps and lifts, access can be extremely limited at train stations. Recent years have seen the launch of several initiatives aimed at improving access for disabled people. In 2006, the Railways for All strategy was launched and the ‘Access For All’ funding is being utilised at 150 previously stations. £35 million per year of government funding has been allocated through until 2015 to improve access at main line stations with a further £100 million has been added to the budget enabling the programme to extend to 2019 and work be carried out on even more stations than originally planned.
Handrails compliant with the Equality Act
Safety is, of course, the foremost concern and a correctly installed handrail provides optimum safety for all passengers. There are a number of possible solutions on the market which satisfy the requirements outlined in the Equality Act 2010. One solution is to use tube and fittings when constructing a handrail with versatility, ease and speed of installation real advantages for the installer. An example is Kee Safety’s Kee Access fittings range.
This is ideal as a retrofit solution, as the range includes an ‘Add-on’ offset fitting to allow a new handrail to be added onto an existing structure of appropriate size.
Kee Access® handrails around train stations
KEE ACCESS handrails have been installed in various locations throughout the UK, including London Bridge, Keighley in Yorkshire and Hayle station in Cornwall, to provide access to either the station entrance or the platforms.
Staines Railway Station in Middlesex also benefitted from the KEE ACCESS range during installation of a new guardrailing system. Working together with railway engineering contractor GRAMM Interlink Rail, project architects BPR and Southwest Trains, Kee Safety supplied over 100 meters of safety handrail alongside the newly installed ramp to ensure improved station access for travellers of all ages. A Senior Construction Manager at GRAMM Interlink Rail commented: “The Kee Access® range meets the specification provided by the DDA. It’s also a solution that’s quick and easy to put together, making it a very cost-effective approach”.
Safety remains the key driver behind the specification of handrailing and guardrailing. Given the requirements of The Equality Act, all railway stations should aim to have a handrail system installed from which children, the elderly, the disabled and even able-bodied adults can benefit. Safety is Kee and thanks to innovations like KEE ACCESS, this challenge can be met in a very cost-effective way.