TRANSPORT is the quintessential public space, something we all heavily rely on in our day-to-day lives, and something that inevitably leaves us running five minutes late – sometimes longer.

But, there are growing fears that the UK’s train network is outdated and unsafe.

Amidst a year of delays and cancellations, the government is now being urged to provide better public transport for people with a disability.

In a report published by the Department for Transport in July, it outlined the vision for disabled people to have the same access to transport as everyone else.

The report stated disabled people would be able to travel confidently, easily and without extra cost and that more than £500m had been invested to deliver accessible routes, including step-free access, at more than 200 stations.

An example of a local railway station benefiting from this funding boost is Corbridge train station, which has revealed plans for a new ramp.

The addition of the ramp will come as a much-needed relief for wheelchair users and families with pushchairs, who had not been able to use the stepped access to the westbound platform.

Proposals also include introducing a new, standardised handover process for disabled passengers between stations and improving the information available to passengers about station facilities and what they should expect during their journey.

Previously, many people wanting to alight at Corbridge had an hour added to their journey, having to continue to Hexham before waiting for the next eastbound train to ferry them back to the village.

However, the situation at Hexham is little better – if there is no member of staff present, disabled passengers have to walk from the station, across the railway bridge, through Tyne Mills Industrial and on to the other platform. Charlotte Firth, a support worker from Hexham, explained that this situation could often make travelling difficult for people in wheelchairs.

She said: “You don’t know how to find out when a member of staff can help you take someone across, so you have to go all the way round through the industrial estate because you don’t have time.

“Sometimes you get all the way round and find that the train is on the other platform, so you have to run back around – luckily I always leave enough time to get people there.

“I think they could make a crossing that could be used without a member of staff present, but even if they couldn’t do that they could have information online about when someone could be there. Ideally, there would be a wheelchair ramp. It would be a lot of money, but it’s disabled access, which is something that they should be spending money on.”

In a bid to improve customer communication and satisfaction, a smartphone app, currently being trialled by four train companies, will be rolled out across Britain to revolutionise disabled passenger assistance, making it easier for customers to book help at stations and get a more consistent and reliable service.

Robert Nisbet, regional director at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the railway, said: “We know we’ve got to do better to improve rail’s accessibility. We want everyone who has requested assistance to get the help they need, which is why we’re investing in this pioneering technology that has the needs of our customers at its heart.”