The future of accessibility: Three ways LNER is prioritising customers’ needs

BSL on information screens in stations

We always care at LNER. It’s one of our values. We understand that, often, it’s the small details that make the biggest difference.

That’s why we’re investing in the future of accessibility – introducing innovative solutions to make every part of the journey just that little bit easier.

Here’s a look at three things we’re working on: 

1 – The Passenger Assist

Our Passenger Assist service is there to help our disabled and older customers complete their journeys. We assist by doing things such as putting down a ramp to access the train, offering sighted guidance or helping those with mobility impairments manage their luggage. We have recently introduced a new mobile app for our station teams to help them to view and update Passenger Assist requests. The app, supported by a live, online dashboard, forms part of a toolkit which is helping us move the way we handle Passenger Assist requests from a largely paper-based system over to a digital one, ensuring a much more reliable and efficient process. The Passenger Assist Staff Mobile App has been developed by Rail Delivery Group for the whole industry, which will help us work with other train operators to provide a seamless experience for customers across the rail network. 

It will improve the end-to-end experience for our customers as the app will allow all Passenger Assist requests to be visible and accessible in one place, at any stage of the customer’s journey, and can be updated in real-time as the journey progresses.  This means our Station and On Train teams will have the most accurate and up to date information about what assistance a customer needs, allowing them to focus on delivering a fantastic service.

2 – Assistance Waiting Lounges

To enhance the experience of our customers who use Passenger Assist service, we are developing Passenger Assist Lounges at our managed stations. These will provide a safe and comfortable space for customers who have requested assistance to wait before they travel.

Our Passenger Assist Lounges will be easy to identify and find, as well as providing different types of seating for people with different access needs. The areas will provide a calming space for quick visits, or longer waits for those who need it. We have chosen a flexible seating design which can be easily rearranged by staff to suit the needs of customers on the day. For example, we can accommodate companions and groups, whilst also providing a space with arm rest tables for customers who wish to work.

These new spaces will give customers requiring assistance a quieter space to wait, plus confidence that a member of staff is nearby, allowing our customers to travel in confidence.

3 - Sign language on customer information screens

Artificial Intelligence has moved from the realm of sci-fi into a real technology - tackling complex problems with the potential to apply it to a range of issues. At LNER, we’ve got an Innovation Team dedicated to finding new solutions and ways to utilise technology to improve our services. A current project they’re working on is our British Sign Language avatar. To provide equal access to information for the community, our AI is programmed to translate train destination and calling points into British Sign Language (BSL), which will then be displayed directly on our customer information screens (CIS).

That means that all the information about your journey, regardless of whether you use English or BSL, can be accessed from one screen. Phase 2 of the testing will be underway soon, and if successful, the initiative will be rolled out to at least nine LNER stations.

Journey into the future

As we work to update our service with innovative approaches, we’re always trying to keep our customers at the heart of everything we do.

We’re confident we can always do more, and we will continue to improve. We’re exploring how we can transcribe audio announcements into text so We’re still developing our BSL tools and we’re investigating how we can use our LNER app to better serve customers across our route.

Read more about how we’re developing new tools to support better journeys. [LINK – travelling in style]