Update July 31st 2017
New lightweight wheelchair ramps are now available for use and positioned in disabled saloons or brake van storage areas. These were purchased with a grant from the DfT obtained by the SVR Charitable Trust and should replace the old style wheeled ramps for general use. The ramps are specifically manufactured for railways and are widely in use on the national network and heritage railways.
A Noticeboard issue on the password-protected SVROnline provides instructions for use. training and familiarisation by Stationmasters, Train Crew Manager and Head of Department Travelling Ticket Inspectors, and on retention/disposal of existing ramps.
The new ramps can be used at Country Park Halt at the discretion of the train guard. Usually wheelchair coaches are positioned next to or form part of the guard’s vehicle. The 2018 Timetable will be amended to show that Country Park Halt can be used for passengers in wheelchairs.
Wheelchair ramps must not be used at Northwood Halt. Following an inspection, it is considered that this Halt is not suitable for wheelchair use due to access issues and the train height from the platform.
Mel Cook Safety Advisor
March 1st 2017
Easier access for wheelchair users.
Mel Cook and Leigh Weston checking out a new, lightweight wheelchair ramp. A full set is now on order, so soon every one of our wheelchair-accessible coaches will have its own.
It's all part of a SVR Charitable Trust project to improve wheelchair facilities on our trains, part-funded by the Department for Transport.
May 25th 2016
It was announced today that the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust has won £75,000 in a Department for Transport competition, for an ambitious scheme to transform the Railway’s travel offering for disabled passengers.
The Trust took part in a national ‘Dragons’ Den’ style competition, pitching their project to a panel of senior government figures, including Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Sir William McAlpine, Mark Garnier MP, and Deirdre Wells of UK Inbound. More than 200 organisations applied for funding from the DfT’s Heritage and Community Rail Tourism Innovation competition, and the SVR was one of those shortlisted to pitch in person to the Dragons.
Reacting to the announcement by Rail Minister Claire Perry that the SVR had been chosen as one of the competition winners, Nick Ralls said:
"This award means we can transform our facilities for disabled visitors. We think it’s essential we offer all our passengers, regardless of their mobility level, the same level of convenience and access, along with the on board heritage dining facilities for which our railway is so well regarded. This funding from the DfT gives us the key to make that happen, and we’re extremely excited about getting started on the work."
Rail Minister Claire Perry said:
"We want to show the best of British to our visitors and Heritage and Community Railways are part of that package. I am delighted that the Severn Valley Railway is one of 17 national winners across Britain. I look forward to seeing the scheme develop, providing another great reason to visit Worcestershire and Shropshire."
The SVR’s scheme involves the restoration and conversion of two 1950s carriages, and the purchase of lightweight, portable ramps for each of the Railway’s wheelchair-accessible carriages. Charitable Trust wins £75k!
The first phase will see the restoration and conversion of a currently un-used British Rail vehicle into a dedicated wheelchair-accessible carriage, providing accommodation for five wheelchair users and their companions, along with a disabled toilet. The team of staff and volunteers at the Railway has extensive experience in this type of adaptation, having carried out similar projects in recent years. The Trust’s chairman Hugh McQuade explains more:
"We learn from every one of our restoration projects, and we’re constantly adapting our approach. We pay great attention to getting an authentic match to each carriage’s period style. It’s about giving passengers the richest heritage experience that we can."
This carriage will complete the Railway’s fleet of adapted carriages, and will mean that there are wheelchair facilities on every single timetabled train on the Railway.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the restoration team lies in the second phase of the project. This involves rebuilding a second carriage to provide dining accommodation for up to 16 wheelchair users. Hugh McQuade explains more about its design:
"We’ve come up with an innovative zig-zag layout for the tables, that means we can allow for many different configurations of wheelchairs and conventional seating. As far as we know, nothing like this exists anywhere else in Britain."
The expansion of the Railway’s existing wheelchair-accessible fleet and the creation of a dedicated dining car mean that we’ll be able to offer charter and party facilities for large groups of people with disabilities.
The third part of the scheme is the purchase of lightweight wheelchair ramps, to be carried in every adapted vehicle, including the ‘new’ dining car. The current station-based ramps are heavy and cumbersome, and because of security issues cannot be kept at every station and stop along the line. The new set of portable ramps will allow disabled passengers to get on and off trains at all stations and halts, giving them full access to all the attractions on the route.
The DfT’s £75,000 will form part of the project’s overall cost. The remainder of the funding comes from the Charitable Trust’s own funds, those of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) plc, and also includes an in-kind costing for more than 3,000 volunteer hours that will be worked on this project.