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2004-11-29 DfT-001
Department for Transport

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All trains to be accessible by 2020


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Department for Transport



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Department for Transport

All trains to be accessible by 2020
_______________________________________________________________


date
29 Nov 2004 00:00
source Department for Transport
type Press release



All trains will be accessible to disabled people by 2020, Transport Minister Charlotte Atkins announced today.

The announcement follows the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Bill in the House of Lords. The Bill is the final step towards delivering the Government's commitment to extend rights and opportunities for disabled people and will substantially amend the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA).

Charlotte Atkins said:

"Trains are a vital link in the accessible transport chain and it is important that disabled people have confidence that, when travelling by rail, the train that arrives will be accessible to them. I am therefore pleased to announce our proposals to make all trains accessible by 2020 and our intention to make existing trains more accessible when they are refurbished."

All new trains entering service since 1 January 1999 have had to comply with accessibility regulations specifying minimum technical standards for features such as audio and visual information systems and wheelchair accommodation, including accessible toilets.

The setting of an end date will ensure that all trains will have to be accessible by 2020. Existing trains will also be made more accessible when they are refurbished and improvements to the associated regulatory regime are also proposed.

Consultation on the detail of these proposals, including draft regulations, will be undertaken during the passage of the Bill.

There are already over 1,900 new, accessible vehicles in service with another 700 more expected in the next 18 months.

As trains and stations become more accessible for disabled people they also greatly benefit other passengers, such as parents with pushchairs or those carrying heavy luggage.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Government is committed to an accessible public transport system in which disabled people have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society.

2. Accessibility regulations, requiring all new public transport vehicles to be accessible to disabled people (including wheelchair users), have been introduced under Part 5 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). These are already in place for buses, coaches and trains. Proposals for taxis have also been announced.

3. The Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998 (RVAR) have applied to all new rail vehicles (including light rail, underground and trams) entering service since 1 January 1999. There are already over 1,900 new, accessible vehicles in service with another 700 more expected in the next 18 months.

4. When introduced, there were no powers in the DDA enabling the setting of an "end date" by which all rail vehicles would have to comply with RVAR. Clause 6 of the Disability Discrimination Bill ("the Bill"), which was introduced in the House of Lords on Thursday 25 November, enables this anomaly to be rectified.

5. 2020 was announced today as the Government's preferred end date for compliance. This follows consultation* which ended on 26 January 2004 and originally proposed an end date of 2025. Bringing the proposed date forward highlights the Government's continued commitment to a fully accessible transport system.

6. Currently the regulations only apply to new trains but the Bill will also allow RVAR to be applied to trains which are being refurbished as well as a package of other amendments to the regulatory regime.

7. New trains are already accessible and many older trains, whilst not meeting RVAR fully, do possess features to assist disabled people. The Bill's measures, once enacted, will result in existing, unregulated trains becoming more accessible and disabled people will benefit from the application of RVAR to these vehicles when they are refurbished in advance of the end date.

8. Further consultation in the form of the draft regulations will be undertaken during the Bill's passage through Parliament. The draft regulations will include more detail on the Government's proposed approach.

9. These measures apply to England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland will be holding their own separate consultation exercise on these issues in due course.

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk

* Consultation on the Government's proposals to amend the Rail provisions in Part V of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, DfT, November 2003. Available from
www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_mobility/documents/page/dft_mobility_025433.hcsp.



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