Blackpool welcome for trains firm's social media group for disabled travellers

A Blackpool-based campaigner for improving travel for disabled people has welcomed new social media aid from rail firm Avanti West Coast.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 12:30 pm

But rail sector champion Stephen Brookes said it was important to remember not all vulnerable travellers may have access to technology.

Avanti West Coast has become the first UK train operator to provide a dedicated social media forum for disabled customers.

The forum enables passengers on the West Coast Main Line to connect with each other as well as a social media team assigned to provide specialist support.

Emma Martell of Avanti West Coast with the new mobile phone forum for disabled travellers
Emma Martell of Avanti West Coast with the new mobile phone forum for disabled travellers

The long-distance operator's Facebook group is called Accessible Rail Travel with Avanti West Coast, and aims to provide a support network to share advice, tips and offer feedback.

Stephen Brookes said: “I am in favour of any moves by rail companies to improve access to their services for disabled passengers, and am pleased that Avanti have made this great step forward to enable disabled people to have more confidence to travel on their services as lock down restrictions ease.

"I do though remind Avanti and all train companies that there are a great many disabled people who either are unable through a rang of disability or economic reasons to access 'smart' technology and we must not create a system which only benefits those who can access the technology."

The forum will be managed by Avanti West Coast’s social media team, and is the idea of Emma Martell, Avanti West Coast’s Head of Social Content.

Stephen Brookes

She said: “We believe creating a sense of community with our customers through a private forum on social media can add real value for those who may need extra assistance. We want to both help them directly and enable them to help others, so everyone feels supported when planning or making a journey.

“By connecting people who have a shared understanding we want to build a support network, where tips and experiences for journeys on our route can be exchanged. We hope this platform will help to improve the overall journey experience for disabled customers and encourage more people to travel by train.”

Anyone on Facebook can find the group at this link: www.facebook.com/groups/accessiblewestcoast and request to join it.

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