Community rail project enables travel training for disabled people in Suffolk

Published on: Wednesday, 22 May 2024
Last updated: Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Disabled people and people with learning disabilities in Suffolk have been gaining experience of travelling on trains and buses as part of a Travel Training Service, commissioned by Suffolk County Council.

The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership and Greater Anglia are working with the Essex County Council’s Travel Training Service. A service which works with young people and adults to travel independently and with confidence on public transport and walking routes.

Twenty students aged between 16 and 25 travelled from Ipswich to Felixstowe by train on 3 May. The group was shown how to buy a ticket, how to board safely, and how to stay safe at a train station. Travel trainers also guided the students through booking assistance and how to find customer service.

The scheme is designed to help young people travel independently and safely when using public transport and walking routes, with the aim to improve access to education, jobs, and leisure.

The expert team of travel trainers support participants on a one-to-one basis, accompanying them on journeys until they develop the skills to travel on their own.

The training is delivered by Essex Country Council and is offered to people who live in Suffolk, Essex, Ealing, and Southend. Anyone can make a referral at

Essex Travel Training Manager, Theresa Salmon, said:

“The benefits of Travel Training are far reaching and lifelong, not only for the individual, but for their parents and carers and the community, providing access to education and jobs.’

“Working with the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership and Greater Anglia on the Try a Train event gave our students the opportunity to travel on a train and meet new friends. For some of the group it was the first time they had been on the train. These activities help alleviate some of their fears and allows them to see how travelling by train is safe.

“We are very grateful to the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership and Greater Anglia for supporting this event and to all Greater Anglia staff who were involved. We would also like to thanks Suffolk County Council for commissioning the service for its residents”

Figures show that since the scheme started it has enabled over 700 young people and adults in Suffolk to become independent travellers.

Greater Anglia’s Accessibility and Inclusion Manager, Rebecca Richardson, said:

“The railway is a vital link for communities to access a range of services, and for leisure and work, so we are really pleased to be involved in this scheme which can help give people the confidence to start travelling by train.”

“We are fully committed to making our railway more accessible and offer support and information to anyone who needs assistance, either through staff at stations or our Passenger Assistance service.”

As part of Greater Anglia’s wider commitment to making rail more accessible and providing quality information to enable more informed journey planning, the train operator for the East of England has launched virtual tours for 16 of its busiest stations for Passenger Assistance, as well as its entire new train fleet.

These tours can be viewed at on any device and the addition of more stations is planned in the future.