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‘Paws on the Platform’ shares lived experience of barriers to train travel

Kent Community Rail Partnership (CRP) has collaborated with Southeastern and Guide Dogs Maidstone to share the lived experience of people with visual impairments when travelling by train, reinforcing the need to provide safe journeys for everyone.

The ‘Paws on the Platform’ initiative brought people with visual impairments together with Southeastern to share their experiences of accessing rail services and to discuss the ways in which challenges can be overcome.

Guide Dogs staff, volunteers and local guide dog owners and cane users were at the heart of the activities. They agreed to be shadowed by members of Southeastern’s management team for a journey to share their lived experience of using rail services with additional accessibility requirements.

The group went through the process of buying a ticket, finding the right platform, boarding the train, locating a seat and disembarking.

Key learning points included how the correct use of tactile paving provides an indication of stairways and platform edges, the need for clear announcements at stations and on-board trains, and the value placed on having Southeastern staff available to provide help and assistance when required.

Therese Hammond, project officer at Kent CRP, said: “We were delighted to be working in collaboration with Guide Dogs. The practical barriers that people in our community with sight loss experience when travelling by train were highlighted and with Southeastern’s support we will endeavour to improve their future train travel experiences.”

Diane Proctor, member of the Maidstone Fundraising Group of Guide Dogs, said: “Traveling by train can be incredibly challenging for people with sight loss, as it can be difficult to know which platform to board the train and when it has reached the right station.

“Paws on the Platform offered a unique opportunity for key decision makers to be guided through a train journey to help them understand the difficulties faced by those with visual impairments, and how that experience can be improved.

“We were delighted to work with Kent CRP on this consultation event with support from staff at Southeastern.”

Keep up to date with future news, projects and events from Kent CRP via their website.