Northern launches £250k scheme to make train travel more accessible

Northern is seeking proposals on specific projects that will make a positive difference to communities across the north of England, enhancing accessibility and improving train travel for all. 

The Northern Accessibility Innovation Scheme is dedicated to opening opportunities for disabled and older people on the Northern network. The scheme follows on from some excellent projects that were brought to life because of the Accessibility Fund in 2020/21, delivered in partnership with local authorities, community rail partnerships and charities.

Being led and overseen by the Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG), the £250k programme will be awarded across a number of categories, with one project receiving £100k, several schemes receiving £50k and other proposals each receiving a maximum of £10k. 

Photo credit: Northern.

Mark Powles, commercial and customer director at Northern, said: “We are dedicated to making Northern’s services accessible to everyone, and to playing a role in improving the communities along our routes. We want to hear suggestions for how we can continue to do this.    

“I am delighted that for the second year running we have been able to provide a quarter of a million pounds to our Accessibility Innovation Scheme, which will consider a wide range of proposals involving our trains and stations and will have a positive impact for the north.

“The fund is part of our wider project to transform our network, giving all our customers a rail service fit for the 21st Century.” 

In the last 12 months, numerous schemes aimed at improving access for all have been delivered across West and South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria. These include:

NAUG spokesperson, Mark Wilson, said: “Northern are working continuously to improve accessibility across its network and our user group is proving expert lived experience of disability to support this.   

“The scheme cash delivered some great projects last year and we are pleased with Northern’s continued commitment which will benefit many communities across the North.”  

Ideas for the 2023 scheme could include innovations that make train travel simpler and easier, raise awareness of rail services or encourage people to travel for the first time by train.   

Other applications could include how information is presented at stations or the facilities provided.    

For bids to be considered, the proposed project or scheme must be scheduled for completion by 31st December 2023, be fully costed and appropriately researched. Match funding is not a requirement but will be looked at favourably, especially for schemes with a higher overall value. 

Applications can be submitted via the Northern website, and will be considered on a rolling basis until the new extended deadline of Tuesday 3 January 2023, with judging and awards taking place in the early new year.