Published on: Tuesday, 20 October 2020
Last updated: Tuesday, 20 October 2020
Rail staff in East Anglia are continuing to receive pioneering accessibility awareness training courses to maintain high levels of customer service during the ongoing pandemic.
Greater Anglia’s team of trainers have worked behind the scenes to convert the training programme into a virtual format to ensure there is no break in its aim to train all 2,500 staff in improving the journeys of people with accessibility needs.
The training - all delivered by professional disabled trainers - aims to improve customer service for disabled passengers.
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 last year commissioned Equality Trainer, Sarah Rennie, to put together a team.
Sarah comments, “Online training has been a real success. The teams are pleased to see each other via video calling and take the opportunity to reflect on really topical disability equality issues such as face coverings and lip reading. As a trainer, it’s a privilege to be in the (virtual) room!”
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.”
Greater Anglia continues to roll out its new fleet trains which have an improved accessible area and accessible toilets on every train.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Greater Anglia is ensuring that rail travel is safe for staff and passengers with an enhanced cleaning regime, on stations and trains, concentrating on high-touch areas such as push buttons, grab rails and door handles.
The train operator has also introduced a wide range of measures to make it easier for customers to maintain social distancing at stations and on trains - including floor markings, one-way systems, new signs and queuing systems.
It is now mandatory for customers to wear a face covering when using public transport, to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Children under the age of 11, and disabled people or those with a medical condition which means they cannot wear a face covering, are exempt from wearing them.