The Lift and Escalator Industry Association (LEIA) recently shared some very interesting news about how Network Rail has been investing in improving accessibility at railway stations nationwide, and how they have been exploring a competition-winning idea to improve accessibility information on lifts and escalators for passengers.
Network Rail’s project was launched on the back of the Access for All programme, a rail industry initiative geared towards providing a railway that is inclusive and accessible for everyone.
Improved information for passengers who rely on lifts and escalators
The idea that forms the basis for the project was the winner of the latest rail industry-backed InfraHack competition which aims to improve railway innovation. The core aim of the idea is to provide passengers with improved information about escalators and lifts at railway stations.
The idea included a publicly accessible data feed that would provide real time information on the status of lifts and escalators at train stations nationwide.
Half of Network Rail’s escalators and lifts already incorporate remote monitoring systems that deliver information about any problems. Passengers would be able to use this information to plan their journeys through a range of applications like National Rail Enquiries, Trainline and CityMapper. Notifications would be sent to passengers if a lift or escalator they would usually rely on was suddenly out of action so that they could plan an alternative route in advance.
Anthony Dewar, head of buildings and architecture at Network Rail, said: “We knew we had lots of data on the status and condition of our lifts and escalators, but very little information. We felt it was ripe for letting the challenge loose on the data scientists, entrepreneurs and business developers at InfraHack.
“We are delighted with the solutions that were developed. They really did prove our data could be turned information to put passengers first by providing improved end to end journey information and in using big data to make better informed asset management decisions.”
Access for All
The Access for All Programme provides an obstacle-free, accessible route to and between platforms. With the majority of the UK’s railway designed during the Victorian era, it is obvious that much of it simply won’t meet today’s accessibility standards. Nowadays however there is a clearer understanding of how wider access and inclusion for everyone can be provided.
Accessible stations benefit everyone, from those with health conditions or disabilities to people with children, shopping or luggage and some older people. Accessibility at stations also helps boost the economy and reduces car journeys, congestion and carbon emissions. Inclusive design puts people at the heart of the design process.
Accessibility improvements include automatic lifts that deliver an audible tone when the doors open and close.
The work that has been completed so far by Network Rail can all be viewed on their interactive map.