Guide Dogs help train rail staff in East Anglia

July 17, 2019

People with sight loss have been working with directors and executives from train operator Greater Anglia to help provide a better service.

Volunteers from Guide Dogs, a national charity which provides support for people with sight loss, helped to educate Greater Anglia and Network Rail staff at London Liverpool Street on Tuesday 9 July.

The training was delivered to Greater Anglia directors, executives and Service Diamonds – staff members who are tasked with finding ways to raise customer service standards across the rail network in East Anglia – along with Network Rail staff, who assist passengers at London Liverpool Street.

Five volunteers with a range of sight loss – some of who were cane or guide dog users – spoke to staff about the challenges they face when travelling on trains, and how train operators can improve their customer service and accessibility.

Martin Moran, Greater Anglia’s commercial and customer service director, Simone Bailey, asset management director and Jay Thomson, train service delivery director, all took part in the training on 9 July.

Helen Sismore, Community Engagement for East Anglia, Guide Dogs, said: “To be able to work with an organisation such as Greater Anglia to ensure that people with sight loss are represented while using public transport is phenomenal.

“Trains and public transport are essential for people with sight loss. We aim to help people live independently and get out and about, and many of them rely on travelling by train.

“We are very grateful for the opportunity to work collaboratively to improve rail travel for those who are blind or partially sighted. The event helped to explain the issues that people with sight loss have while using public transport.”

Rebecca Richardson, Greater Anglia’s Accessibility Manager, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Guide Dogs to help those with visual impairments use our trains, and we’re grateful to the group for their incredibly valuable advice and insight.

“We care about making the railway accessible for everyone – more than 50,000 people requiring assisted travel on our trains every year, and we want everyone to have a good experience.”

Representatives from Guide Dogs travelled to Switzerland last year to see Greater Anglia’s new trains being built. They helped advise on the accessible toilets, vestibules, seating, seating barriers and types of ramps used.

The charity is also part of Greater Anglia’s Disability Equality Board, which helps improve accessibility and rail travel for those with additional needs.