A group of 11 'Possability People' with various accessibility needs took part in a 'Try a Train' event from Brighton to Chichester last week, hosted by Govia Thameslink Railway. Possability People is a Brighton-based charity helping people who are disabled or have long-term health conditions with independent living, travel and day-to-day support.
With the day led by Brighton’s Station Manager Anthony Dowsett, the group were issued tickets and were able to go through the gate to the platform by themselves, a crucial aspect in helping to build their confidence. Once on the train, they were updated on upcoming initiatives that GTR are looking to introduce to assist with their needs, rounded off with a Question and Answer session.
At Chichester the group took a tour of the station and a break for refreshments before heading back to Brighton.
Back at Brighton, the group enjoyed a complimentary visit to the Toy and Rail Museum under the station. The visually impaired members of the group were treated to an immersive sensory experience by the museum’s manager, Jan Etches.
Anthony Dowsett said: "The Try a Train initiative is a valuable experience for all people with accessibility needs as it can help build confidence in using public transport independently. It also helps Govia Thameslink Railway to fully understand the wide range of needs of our passengers may have, meaning that we can provide the best accessibility support both at stations and on the trains."
Demand is high for Govia Thameslink’s Try a Train events; the company runs a dozen or so each year.
For more info on Possability People visit the charity’s web site at https://www.possabilitypeople.org.uk/
The event followed closely on Govia Thameslink’s launch of new accessible travel support cards – details at
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Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – services between Bedford and Brighton, Luton/St Albans and Sutton, Wimbledon and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria
GTR is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff. The operator carries about 326 million passenger journeys per year, and employs around 6,500 people. Its aim is to improve services across all four networks.
Southern has the fastest passenger growth in the UK with numbers into London having doubled in 12 years - compared with the industry as a whole doubling over the past 20 years. To meet this growth and to future-proof the network, GTR is modernising the rail service for passengers.
GTR has introduced more new trains in the past year than all other franchises put together, with 500 new carriages so far.
The transformative £7bn Thameslink Programme will bring hundreds more daily services from 2018, increasing the number of trains though the central London core from up to 15 to 24 trains per hour. Network Rail has also launched a £300m programme to improve resilience across the GTR network.
GTR is modernising how it works, with new technology in use at our stations and on our trains, smartcard ticketing and a new, flexible on-board role on many Southern services. This ensures fewer cancellations, and with more staff on board our trains now than ever before, passengers are enjoying a much better level of on-board customer service.
The GTR investment programme for stations includes funding for more CCTV, toilet refurbishments, new retail facilities, help points and car park improvements – as well as plans for increased motorcycle storage and improved transport integration.