Rail vehicle accessibility


An outline of the rail accessibility legislation enforced by the ORR.

The Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Non-Interoperable Rail System) Regulations 2010 (RVAR 2010) set out the accessibility standards to which new non-mainline (and older rail vehicles as and when they are refurbished) must comply.

We enforce these Regulations and the requirements in the Persons of Reduced Mobility Technical Specification for Interoperability (PRM TSI) which cover heavy rail.

Rolling stock covered by RVAR 2010 or the PRM TSI has to provide a number of features that make it easier to use such as handholds, passenger information displays, priority seats and provision for wheelchairs. The PRM TSI also sets accessibility standards for new stations or for stations where major work takes place.

Rail vehicle accessibility legislation is complex but as a general summary:

  • mainline trains built from 1999 to 2009 have to comply with standards created through earlier legislation (the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998 - replaced by RVAR 2010) unless exemptions have been granted by the Department for Transport (DfT);
  • mainline trains built from 2010 onwards have to comply with the PRM TSI;
  • non-mainline rail vehicles (such as London Underground trains, trams and some heritage railways) are covered by RVAR 2010;
  • rail vehicles built before 1999 do not at present need to comply with any accessibility legislation although operators may choose to make improvements for the benefit of their passengers.

DfT sets the overall policy on accessibility across all transport modes, including the target for all rail vehicles – both heavy and light rail – to be accessible by no later than 1 January 2020 (unless appropriate exemptions are in place).

ORR enforces the requirements of RVAR 2010 and the PRM TSI. We do so in line with the principles established in our enforcement policy statement and in response to potential breaches of the legislation as raised by passengers and others.