Sarah Shaffi, Olympics editor (news)
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The London 2012 Games have played a key part in improving access for disabled passengers using the capital’s public transport, according to Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.
The Paralympian was speaking at Earl’s Court Station today, where she tried out one of the manual boarding ramps Transport for London (TfL) is putting in 16 key Tube stations to help wheelchair users access trains.
Baroness Grey-Thompson, who is a member of TfL’s board, said there had been great improvements for disabled people using London’s transport network over the past years.
She said: “I think the Games has been really positive in terms of us being able to say what we need to do to make accessibility better.
“Staff training is one of those things. What I do find is in the last couple of years the staff have been really, really helpful. I got here today and was asked if I needed any help by someone who didn’t know who I was, and that makes a difference that there is someone who can help.
“I think because of the Games we have been able to say these 16 stations need ramps and without the Games that might not have happened.”
TfL is placing temporary manual boarding ramps in Tube stations including Stratford, King’s Cross St Pancras, Westminster and Wimbledon.
The ramps will enable wheelchair users to board trains more easily at these stations, which have a gap between the train and the platform.
Baroness Grey-Thompson said: “Because I work in London and use public transport I am passionate about more disabled people having the chance to use public transport.
“Leading up to the Games, when there are going to be more disabled people using the network, the fact that we have got more ramps is good.
“A personal wish is that Games time is a great opportunity to test this out, and that I hope after this we can look at extending this out to other stations.”
In addition to the ramps TfL today also launched a series of “how to” films aimed at helping passengers with disabilities navigate the capital’s public transport system.
There is step-free access across the Docklands Light Railway and at all new London Overground stations. By the start of the Games 66 Tube stations will also be step-free.
Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground, said: “This is an exciting Games. They are by far the most accessible Games in the history of the Games and it is something London should be proud of.”
Public transport users are being advised to plan their journeys beforehand on www.tfl.gov.uk/journeyplanner, which now has improved accessible journey options.