Greater Anglia is pioneering brand new accessibility awareness training courses – all delivered by professional disabled trainers in order to improve customer service for disabled passengers.
The company has commissioned a team of Accessibility and Inclusion trainers to deliver regular sessions over the next two years to ensure its 2,500 strong workforce feels empowered to help improve the journeys of people with accessibility needs.
This makes Greater Anglia the first operator in the country to implement accessibility courses that meet the rail regulator’s new standards, ahead of new rules that come in in 2021 requiring all train operators to undertake such training.
The programme is also ‘disabled-led’ – as the sessions are all delivered by disabled trainers, after Greater Anglia commissioned consultant, Sarah Rennie, to put together a team.
The course covers meeting and greeting disabled customers and how to talk to them about their access needs, language and terminology, communication, body language, etiquette and practical examples of assisting customers with different impairments, as well as the business and legal case for why it’s important to understand the issues.
At the end of the course, delegates are invited to make an ‘Inclusion Promise’, naming one thing they plan to do differently to improve accessibility and inclusion for customers.
Greater Anglia’s Accessibility Manager, Rebecca Richardson, said, “At Greater Anglia we are really serious about doing better in this area. We want everyone to have a good journey with us, so giving our staff the skills and knowledge to always have accessibility in the forefront of their minds will help us achieve that step-change in customer service that we are seeking to provide.”
“This training is going to make a real difference for staff as it will give them more confidence when assisting disabled customers.
“And it will really help disabled customers with their journey experience as staff are better able to understand what they need to do in order to support somebody through their journey and to provide a good passenger experience.”
Equality Trainer, Tracey Proudlock said, “The training allows staff to come together and talk about the challenges they face in their role, find solutions and then go back to work with some concrete ideas about how to make a difference.”
Equality Trainer, Sarah Rennie, added, “And the training is also facilitated by disabled trainers - which is important because we bring a level of lived experience into the room to really bring that training to life.”
Above: Left to right: Tanvi Vyas, trainer, Rebecca Richardson, Greater Anglia's Accessibility Manager, Tracey Proudlock, trainer and Sarah Rennie, trainer.
Around 40,000 people per year use Greater Anglia’s Assisted Travel service to get help with making a train journey. Staff are able to meet passengers, help them get on and off trains or help with luggage. A similar number of customers with accessibility needs also use Greater Anglia services without booking.
Greater Anglia continues to roll out its new fleet of Stadler trains which are more accessible – with lower level floors and a retractable step at each door, which bridges the gap between station platform and train, making them more accessible for wheelchairs, buggies and people with mobility impairments.
They also have an improved wheelchair spaces and accessible toilets on every train.