Campaign update: funding plans for railway safety
On Wednesday (19 May) Transport Minister Chris Heaton Harris responded to a parliamentary question tabled by Sarah Olney MP, which asked when tactile paving will be installed across all rail platforms.
Chris Heaton Harris responded: “We are working with Network Rail to potentially accelerate the roll out of tactile edge paving, including a funding plan by autumn 2021."
Tactile (tactile paving) will be installed on over 100 accessible routes as part of the Access for All programme by 2024. Whenever the industry installs, replaces, or renews platform infrastructure, it must install tactile.
Since February, we’ve been campaigning for tactile paving to be installed at stations where it’s missing, following the death of Cleveland Gervais. Cleveland, a partially sighted man, who was tragically killed after falling from a platform without tactile last year. While it is encouraging to hear that specific funding for this work is being prioritised - and Network Rail’s current timeframe of completion by 2029 could be potentially accelerated - this still does not go far enough to make all stations safe as quickly as we want.
Blind and partially sighted people rely on tactile paving to locate platform edges and stay safe, but around half of mainline railway stations don't have it. This leaves people with sight loss at disproportionate risk of injury or fatality when travelling by rail. The installation of tactile across the network must be sped up, starting with proper funding.
Since the parliamentary question was answered, the Government has also published plans for a major overhaul of England’s railway systems. The announcement stated:
The safety and security of passengers, staff, partners and members of the public is critical.
If safety is indeed at the forefront of these upcoming changes, it is vital that this includes the safety of blind and partially sighted people. A crucial step towards achieving this is installing tactile paving where it is missing at mainline stations.
There is still time to help add momentum to our campaign to make stations safe, by adding your name to our petition. Almost 15,000 have already signed. Every signature helps us continue to push for action on this crucial issue.