New digital platform improves travel for passengers with reduced mobility
The TOC Ability platform was successfully tried and tested by customers with accessibility needs across the UK throughout November 2018.
The £1.4 million TOC Ability research and development project has released its final report, which demonstrates how digital technology can be harnessed to enhance the accessibility and inclusivity of rail services for customers with reduced mobility.
The project’s trials featured scenarios which disabled passengers regularly experience, on long and short distance train journeys, with routes operated by different Train Operating Companies (TOCs) and interchanges of varying complexity.
Nick Goss, Managing Director of Goss Consultancy, said: “By making it easier to access assistance at stations and carry out rail journeys, TOC Ability aims to encourage more disabled people to travel with confidence by train. This will make it easier for all customers to access jobs, education, leisure and social activities.”
Made up of seven partner organisations from across the rail industry and academia, the TOC Ability consortium has been working since April 2016, creating a digital platform to share the journey requirements of disabled customers with TOCs, enabling location-specific assistance management across passengers’ end-to-end journeys, whilst protecting user privacy.
Chris Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of Enable ID, which developed the identity governance software that powers TOC Ability, said: “We know from recent government research that on average people with a disability make 88 per cent fewer journeys by rail than other passengers, while the rail sector faces ever-increasing pressure to provide all customers access to the network and experience better journeys. TOC Ability can help to overcome this challenge and give customers with mobility restrictions the confidence they need to travel by train.”
The findings from the trial indicate that customers valued the solution: 80 per cent of trial participants were keen to use the system again, with 86 per cent saying TOC Ability would give them the confidence to embark on unfamiliar journeys. Furthermore, TOC representatives appreciated the in-depth information about passenger’s mobility needs: 92 per cent of employees said the solution made it easier to help passengers when assistance was requested in advance.
Zoe Shute, TOC Ability Project Manager from Atkins, commented: “The recent user trials demonstrate that the TOC Ability solution is a cost-effective and flexible way of improving accessibility and inclusivity on the rail network. Using digital technology in this way means that we don’t need to wait for long-term planned infrastructure enhancements to provide a better service to all passengers.”