11 Jul 2019
"We can build a truly inclusive railway for Wales and the Borders"
That's the message from Transport for Wales' new Accessibility and Inclusion Manager ahead of Disability Awareness Day on 14 July.
Dr Robert Gravelle brings a wealth of professional experience to the role and says he is impressed by the willingness and financial commitment being made to build a better railway and network of public transport.
As part of the £800 million South Wales Metro project, Transport for Wales is committing to making 99% of all journeys on the Core Valley Lines step free.
There is also a commitment to invest £800 million in a new fleet of trains which will be fully accessible and £15 million in mainline station accessibility improvements.
"I'll be working very closely on the Metro project and the development of our brand-new fleet of trains, ensuring accessibility and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do".
"Early intervention when developing new services is key to ensuring the needs of the whole community; but particularly the most vulnerable are imbedded in decision making”.
Robert, who is disabled himself, said; "Accessibility and Inclusion is about providing true Opportunities for all regardless of disability, need or protected characteristic; its about more than statistics; its about people lives. There is a massive amount of work to be done in listening and addressing the needs of the whole community but particularly those with a range of disabilities including Hidden Disabilities, Mental Health, Hearing and Sight Impairments and anyone on the fringes of society.
" The Economic and Societal benefits that access to quality, reliable and affordable public transport can give communities is a significant driver; giving people in communities across our network better access to opportunities."
Amongst the key changes Robert is planning to lead on are:
- Ensuring best practice accessibility is imbedded in our station designs, refurbishment programs and rolling stock.
- Developing an Accessibility and Inclusion Group with representatives from communities with differing needs and insights.
- Imbedding a new inclusive training regime to cover 1,600 staff in the first year and supporting the annual implementation of 12 internships for disabled people.
- Developing assisted booking systems and assisted travel to better support the customer.
- Developing user-based initiatives such as the dementia friendly stations, Sunflower Lanyard scheme and Orange Wallet.
Having experience covering fields such as industrial design, health and safety and Construction design. Most recently having worked for Cardiff Council and as a private accessibility consultant across a range of fields notably St David’s retail, Tyndal Street Bridge, The Ivy Collection, Cardiff Airport, Cardiff Castle, Royal College of Music and Drama, Modal Shift / Transport and more recently Central Square, including the evolving Transport for Wales Cardiff City interchange. Robert is well placed to develop TFWs vision for an inclusive and accessible rail service.
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said;
“Transport for Wales is aligned with the Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015), one our key objectives is to help create ‘a more equal Wales’ and through implementation of our £5 billion investment programme, we hope to improve the customer experience for all our customers, regardless of any disabilities or needs. We will invest £800 million into new trains which will be fully accessible and £15 million to improve accessibility at our stations.
“We are also in the process of developing the Transport for Wales Advisory Panel that will help ensure that our customers and stakeholders have a clear structure by which they can advise us on our development. The customer is at the heart of everything we do and the Advisory Panel will ensure that the needs of all our customers are addressed and we will work collaboratively to form a ‘more equal Wales’.”