Greater Anglia trials app for disabled rail users

28 September 2018, 09:06 | Updated: 28 September 2018, 09:16

Greater Anglia train

An app designed to improve rail journeys for disabled passengers is on its way.

Customers will be able to book, change and cancel help quickly - at the moment it takes up to 40 minutes over the phone.

The app is called Passenger Assist, and will let users use their smartphone to directly communicate with railway staff.

Currently staff at stations get a printed list of booked assistance each morning, which means when plans change - for example if a train is delayed - there's no way to update the list and staff can end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The app will also allow customers to store information about themselves on a profile, making recurring bookings quicker and easier.

It's due to be launched nationally next year.

Hollie Brooks is a disabled passenger from Essex.

She recently had a booked train home to Winvenhoe leave without her on board - because the wheelchair ramp hadn't arrived in time.

"I really hope that this app will help disabled passengers," she told Heart.

"My concern is that A) It's not going to be released fully until April 2019, so people do have to go through a lot of hardship until then, and B) I hope that platform staff can cope, because I know that they are busy at the best of times, so this should hopefully be considered into their workflow.

"The fact that the app is going to be able to track disabled passengers on their journey, so that platform staff can know their updates, know if they're running late - for example - is a real bonus.

"I really hope that the app will also benefit passengers who have mental health probems, whether that's depression, anxiety or anything like that. For disabled passengers anxiety is a huge issue, I know it is for me - every single journey I make I end up having a panic attack.

"The bonus is that Greater Anglia are addressing the needs of disabled passengers, and I think it's a positive thing that they are trying something. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, and I will forever credit them for gving this a go.

"If it does work out I really hope to see this rolled out across all the UK as a mandatory app that rail companies have to have in place."