This important report reveals the experiences of rail passengers with access needs and disabilities in the UK.

The Office of Rail and Road engaged Trajectory and Open Inclusion (Open), a pioneering disability research agency, to conduct quantitative and qualitative research with people with access needs or disabilities. The research took place in two stages:

  1. Firstly, a quantitative survey was conducted with 1,153 respondents. All respondents have a disabling access need or disability of some kind and 93% have travelled by rail in the past year. The survey was carried out online, using both market research panels and Open’s own community of people with disabilities. The data was collected between 21 December 2023 and 8 January 2024.
  2. Secondly, in-depth-interviews were carried out with 12 participants with differing experiences of rail services and complaints processes. These interviews were conducted online in February 2024.

The research described in this report profiles passengers with access needs or disabilities and reports on their general experiences of travelling by train. It focusses on those occasions when things go wrong, and the way in which rail users with access needs or disabilities engage with complaints processes.

Key Findings

Many were positive about how to raise a complaint or redress claim and secure the outcome they were hoping for; however, this was also countered by some reports of very poor experiences.

The key findings from the report show:

  • 86% of disabled passengers who took part in the research were aware of their right to complain when they have received an unsatisfactory service. Of these 62% were ‘fully aware’, however the awareness of redress was lower, at 71%, with only 39% being ‘fully aware’
  • Operators’ complaints processes are broadly accessible to most disabled passengers but 46% reported that they experienced some barriers and 8% found the complaints process to be inaccessible.
  • Disabled passengers would be more likely to complain if they felt it was a worthwhile use of their time and energy and that it would lead to change. Our report showed that in the past two years, 36% of disabled passengers didn’t complain when they believed they had cause to and 45% didn’t seek redress on any occasion when they could have.

The regulator will be engaging with relevant operators to drive improvement after identifying some non-compliance with specific requirements in the Complaints Code of Practice and the Accessible Travel Policy Guidance that are designed to secure passenger awareness and ensure that complaints processes are accessible to all disabled people.

You can download the full report below