Local MP Alex Cunningham joined disability rights campaigners, train company staff, and rail passengers to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Disabled Persons Railcard at a reception in the Houses of Parliament last Thursday (1 December).
The reception heard from Transport Minister Norman Baker MP; Sir Bert Massie, one of the founders of the Railcard; and Chief Executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), Michael Roberts.
Alex also welcomed new figures released by ATOC, which manages the Railcard, showing that record numbers of people with disabilities are getting about by train, with 3.5 million trips made last year.
Launched in 1981, the Railcard was the first of its kind in Europe and offers cardholders and a friend or companion travelling with them 1/3 off the cost of most train tickets on the National Rail network. Journeys made using the Railcard have more than doubled in the last 15 years.
On average last year, Disabled Persons Railcard holders made 29 journeys and saved £99 on rail travel. If they had held a Railcard since 1981, on average they would have saved almost £2,500 and travelled more than 40,000 miles. As well as the savings offered for disabled passengers, train companies attribute the continuing rise in numbers to significant improvements in facilities and services on trains.
“With more than three and a half million trips made using the Disabled Persons Railcard last year, it’s clear what an important contribution it makes to the lives of so many people with disabilities. I know that many people in Stockton rely on their Railcard. That’s why I was delighted to wish it a happy 30th birthday and to congratulate ATOC and train companies on their record breaking year.”
Michael Roberts, ATOC Chief Executive, said:
“I was very pleased Alex Cunningham was able to join us to celebrate this occasion. Train companies are committed to responding to passengers’ needs and will continue to work closely with Alex, disability charities and support groups to improve services even further in Stockton North and across the country.
“Accessible public transport plays a key role in allowing disabled people to lead an independent life, so it’s good news that more and more people are taking advantage of the Disabled Persons Railcard.”