Network Rail has invested £175,000 in a new assisted travel lounge at Birmingham New Street station which opened today (10/06).
The new lounge provides a welcoming waiting space for people with additional mobility and sensory needs and a dedicated team to help them.
The investment is part of Network Rails ‘Railway Upgrade Plan’, a multi-billion pound upgrade scheme which is the biggest investment programme in the railways since Victorian times.
To make it easily accessible during opening hours the lounge door will always be open, with bright multicoloured signs to aid the visually impaired. The room has 24 seats at different heights and a water bowl for service dogs.
Karen Hornby, head of performance and customer relationship for Network Rail, said: “It’s a priority for Network Rail to provide first-class service to our customers. Travelling through a busy railway station can be daunting for those with additional needs but the new assisted travel lounge provides a friendly space for people to wait and get the help they need from a dedicated team. It will transform the way passengers access rail travel at Birmingham New Street.”
The assisted travel lounge was designed with the guidance of Birmingham New Street’s accessibility forum, which includes people with disabilities, their carers and advocates, to ensure the space meets the needs of those who’ll use it.
Mark Sanders, member of the Birmingham Accessibility Forum, said: “I’m registered blind and travel with my guide dog Lily through the station which can sometimes be challenging.
“Having this new waiting lounge will give me a calm place to wait for assistance staff and will be great for the hundreds of people who use assisted travel every week. Network Rail has ticked so many of the boxes and has listened to what people like me need.”
Passengers who need the assisted travel service should speak to their train operator before their journey when booking their ticket.
The new waiting space can be found in the Birmingham New Street red lounge in the place of the old Virgin Trains first class travel lounge.