Digital software company 3Squared has teamed up with 8 times Paralympian gold medallist Sophie Christiansen to develop Rail4All, a service to enable disabled people, especially those with hidden disabilities, to access the rail network and book assistance with confidence.
3Squared is developing Rail4All having won a rail accessibility competition run by the DfT & RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board).
The prize is access to funds to develop a reliable and fit for purpose process that allows disabled passengers to book assistance and then travel by train in the knowledge that help will be available as requested.
At the centre of Rail4All is an intuitive mobile application that is being built by 3Squared with guidance from Sophie Christiansen, who is sharing her rail travel experiences and knowledge of issues affecting disabled rail passengers.
Sophie’s insight allows 3Squared to understand the extent of the problems encountered by disabled rail travellers.
Rail4All needs to address the shortcomings of the current system, highlighted by research carried out by the Office of Road and Rail. This revealed that nearly 25 percent of disabled people who book assistance do not receive the service they requested, while some 70 percent of those surveyed were not aware the service exists.
Common failings of the existing passenger assistance process that deter disabled people from travelling by train include staff not arriving to meet them at agreed points, stations at either end of the journey unaware of the journey and staff being late.
3Squared Commercial Director, James Fox, explained that his company knows an app alone will not solve all the challenges facing disabled passengers who need help on their train journeys.
“Rail4All is a blend of technology application, business change and awareness generation,” he said.
“Rail4All will use GPS for location tracking, internet connectivity for train tracking and instant messaging to coordinate help.
“One of the key challenges Rail4All will face is resistance to change so it is our job to make its adoption frictionless.
“Operators and infrastructure owners are under tremendous pressure, so the new system must not increase the administrative or financial burden.
“In our model advertising will cover the costs so there will be no charge for passengers, train operators or station owners to access Rail4All.”
3Squared is to trial the service at several stations with a number of passenger operators including East Midlands Trains. 3Squared is also seeking a number of volunteers to help trail the Rail4All application, anyone who is interested should email [email protected]