New initiative by TfW boosts confidence for visually impaired travellers

Posted: 24 May 2024 | | No comments yet

Transport for Wales has launched a new initiative employing Travel Companion teams at key stations to boost confidence and provide support for visually impaired travellers.

New initiative by TfW boosts confidence for visually impaired travellers

Credit: Transport for Wales

In a new initiative by Transport for Wales (TfW), people with visual impairments are gaining more confidence to travel, thanks to the introduction of Travel Companion teams stationed at key locations including Cardiff Central, Chester, Swansea, Newport and Shrewsbury. These teams are specifically trained to assist individuals with additional needs, enhancing their travel experience and promoting independence.

In Swansea, members of Guide Dogs Cymru met with the Travel Companion team to discuss the operational aspects of the new roles. The initiative aims to provide crucial support and reassurance for those with sight loss.

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for North Wales and Transport, said: “This fantastic initiative provides additional support to people with a visual impairment. Just knowing there is help available can make all the difference.”

A new office has been established at the front of Swansea Railway Station, providing a welcoming space for customers to speak with the Travel Companion team. Open daily from 08:00 to 20:00, the office offers advice on booking tickets, making reservations, receiving assistance throughout journeys and getting information on any disruptions.

TfL and KeolisAmey launch Access DLR trial to enhance accessibility

Despite recent investments to make trains on the Wales and Borders routes fully accessible, only 13% of surveyed disabled rail users reported feeling confident and at ease when using the train. The new Travel Companion roles are set to improve these statistics significantly.

Suzanne Churchouse, a Travel Companion based in Swansea, said: “We’re all new to these roles so it’s been brilliant learning together and finding the best ways to help customers. It’s clear that every customer has their own individual needs and concerns when travelling and for us, giving them that confidence to travel is incredibly rewarding.”

All travel companions have undergone sighted guide training with Guide Dogs Cymru. This training is part of TfW‘s broader ‘Confident Traveller’ scheme, which aims to support infrequent train users or those requiring additional travel support. The community rail team leads the scheme, collaborating with community support groups to empower people with the experience, knowledge and confidence to travel by train.

This initiative marks a significant step towards inclusive travel, ensuring that individuals with visual impairments can navigate the railway network with greater confidence and ease.

Related modes

Related countries