Consultation on Accessible Travel Policy Guidance - accessibility of rail replacement services

Consultation status
Conclusions published
Date of publication
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ORR response to consultation

We have published new and updated Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) Guidance. This Guidance contains new requirements for train operators that run rail replacement services during disruption. We have published an impact assessment of the ATP Guidance changes. 

The new ATP requirements:

  • reflect the legal advice we published in February this year  by setting out in the Guidance that, with limited exceptions, rail replacement bus and coach services must comply with the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR); 
  • introduce new rules on operators to take appropriate steps to secure accessible rail replacement services via contract tenders to maximise the use of available accessible vehicles, in particular during planned engineering works;
  • ensure passengers know where accessible buses and coaches will be operated, by updating the obligations on operators to proactively provide information to passengers  when there is disruption; and 
  • reinforce our requirement that, where needed, passengers are offered an appropriate alternative arrangement, including alternative accessible transport and requiring that waiting times for accessible taxis during planned disruption are similar to waiting times for rail replacement buses and coaches.

They take immediate effect. We have asked train operators to update their ATPs by 30 November 2020.

The new and updated Guidance also includes details of the new safeguarding measures railway companies must put in place to ensure alighting assistance is reliably provided by station staff to passengers that request it.

We have written to the Rail Minister and rail industry leaders, highlighting the changes we have made and setting out for their consideration a range of other, non-regulatory proposals for reform.

Previous consultation updates
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April 2020 update

We are now reviewing consultation responses and considering our next steps. This is in the light of the Government's decision to offer an exemption of up to eight months from the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations to operators of coaches used in rail replacement services. We plan to publish updated Accessible Travel Policy Guidance in September 2020.

Rail Replacement Services update
Published 30 April 2020

March 2020 update

Rail Replacement Services: Update
Published 3 March 2020

Consultation responses
Published 3 March 2020

December 2019 consultation
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Consultation to revise the Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) Guidance published in July 2019. This aims to improve the availability of accessible vehicles for use by disabled passengers during rail disruption, and to ensure passengers know where accessible buses and coaches will be operated.

This follows draft legal advice published by ORR in September 2019, which concluded that the PSVAR (public service vehicle accessibility regulations) apply to rail replacement services. The regulations ensure buses, and in certain circumstances coaches from 1 January 2020 (unless a one-month exemption until 31 January 2020 is applied for from the Department for Transport), are accessible to disabled people. We have today also published the responses to that legal advice from interested parties.

The regulations are enforced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. Low-floor buses are widely available and in use across Great Britain, including on shorter rail routes when there is disruption. However, there are currently not enough accessible coaches available for hire during disruption to long-distance rail journeys. Passengers are therefore usually offered an accessible taxi, but this also may not be appropriate for all disabled passengers.

Our overall objective is to ensure that all passengers can request and receive assistance to travel safely with confidence and ease. To ensure that this happens, we are seeking views on additional requirements within the ATP Guidance in the following areas:

  • Mandatory tendering for accessible buses and coaches in rail replacement contracts, to incentivise investment in the supply chain and increase the availability of vehicles over time;
  • Encouraging earlier procurement and greater use of accessible vehicles at times of planned disruption;
  • Proactive provision of information to passengers on the accessibility of rail replacement services, and on any alternatives that may be more appropriate; and
  • Working with industry partners to improve the provision of accessible coaches during large-scale engineering works.

In addition to the consultation, we have also published a draft impact assessment of our proposals. The final legal advice was received and published on 6 February 2020.

Consultation document

Further information