East West Rail calls for people to join accessibility panel

Disabled people to help embed inclusivity in customer experience

East West Railway Company (EWR Co) is inviting disabled people to join a new advisory group in a quest to be the optimal accessible rail operator.

EWR Co is encouraging disabled people who live locally to apply to join a new Accessibility Advisory Panel to ensure its services can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone as part of its early route planning work.

EWR Co’s Head of Inclusion, Caroline Eglinton, is behind the initiative, which is hoped will provide insights into the different needs of the diverse local communities to help the company build an inclusive service along the route from Oxford to Cambridge in the UK.

Ensuring accessibility

The Accessibility Advisory Panel will be formed of up to eight people with a range of impairments. It will meet regularly to consider issues such as access to stations and platforms, clarity of customer information, passenger assistance and the on board experience. Panel members must live or work between Oxford and Cambridge. Anyone interested in applying can find out more on EWR Co’s community hub.

EWR Co is establishing the panel whilst the route is in the early planning stages and represents a key part of EWR Co’s strategy to place accessibility at the heart of the project from concept to delivery.

Eglinton is the first Head of Inclusion for EWR Co. She has worked in the rail industry for 16 years, has lived experience of disability, and is also the Disability and Access Ambassador for the sector.

Inclusive organisation

Eglinton champions inclusion across the company, supporting and advising colleagues at every level to ensure the principles of equality, diversity and accessibility feed into all parts of the business at every stage of the project and are reflected in its external work with partners and local communities.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: “As Rail Minister, an important goal of mine is to reduce the hurdles people face when accessing transport, which is why it’s so important that accessibility panels such as this exist. By directly listening to the needs of disabled people living along the route, this fantastic initiative will help to ensure that the future railway is designed to work for the people that will use it on a regular basis.”

Rachel Elson, Customer Services Director of EWR Co, said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to appoint one of the foremost experts in the field to the role of Head of Inclusion. As well as her considerable professional acumen, Caroline also has an incredibly powerful personal story that we can all learn from as we deliver on our promise to put customers at the heart of every decision we make.

Championing wellbeing

“By building a railway that is inclusive of all our communities, we have the chance to extend our impact across the region, improving prosperity and wellbeing where it’s needed most by widening access to jobs, businesses, housing and education. Caroline has established herself as an integral part of our organisation, and I know she will continue to enable us to deliver a railway that all our communities and colleagues can be proud of.”

Caroline Eglinton said: “It’s a privilege to be working with EWR Co, and I’m really excited to be using my experience to change lives for the better in the place I live. The ability to access public transport can be a huge boost to the quality of life and can open up many opportunities for people, yet there are still too many who are excluded from rail travel. As EWR is a brand new railway, we have a rare opportunity to build a service from the outset that will be easy to access – and enjoyable to use – for everyone, no matter who they are.

“I’m particularly looking forward to working with passionate local people via our Accessibility Advisory Panel. They will play a unique and vital role in shaping the service from the start so that it meets the needs of all our potential customers, helping turn our vision of a fully accessible railway into a reality.”

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