Access to railway stations for disabled people is covered by part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Since October 1999, service providers have been required to take reasonable steps to change practices, policies or procedures which make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service. From 2004, service providers will have to take reasonable steps to remove, alter or provide reasonable means of avoiding physical features that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service.
My Department, with the Institution of Highways and Transportation and a number of other bodies, has commissioned guidance, which should be available early next year, on best practice in the design of public transport infrastructure and the pedestrian environment. This will help transport service providers to meet the duties imposed by the DDA.
In addition, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), which took over responsibility for protecting the interests of disabled passengers from the rail regulator earlier this year, requires that all licensed train operating companies publish a disabled people's protection policy describing their facilities and policies for passengers with disabilities. These policies are subject to approval by the SRA and must take account of the SRA's code of practice, "Train and Station Services for Disabled Passengers", a revised version of which was recently circulated for consultation.