Virgin Trains unveils tactile station maps for visually impaired travellers

Blind and partially sighted train travellers can now navigate their way around ten railway stations across England thanks to the arrival of new tactile maps which can be read by touch or sight.

The RNIB Maps for All will be installed at eleven stations across the east coat route. Ten stations already have them on-site: Berwick, Peterborough, Retford, Newark Northgate, Grantham, Darlington, Wakefield Westgate, Doncaster and Durham. Newcastle will follow shortly.

Virgin Trains has worked closely with leading sight loss charity RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) to create RNIB Maps for all eleven stations that it manages on the east coast route – spanning Berwick to Peterborough.*

The maps provide key information such as the location of platforms, toilets, shops and cafes by using a mix of raised large print, Braille and tactile symbols. They are located close to the station entrances to help travellers with sight loss prepare for their journey more easily.

Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss and it is predicted that this number will nearly double by 2050. According to RNIB’s recent My Voice research, one quarter of blind and partially sighted people said they were not able to travel by train as much as they would like. Tactile maps are a way of addressing this issue sensitively and practically.

Kawal Gucukoglu, RNIB Transcription Executive, is registered blind herself and was on hand this week to test out the Peterborough map. She said:

“I like the fact it’s a map for everyone – there’s not a separate one for people with and without sight loss. It’s very clear to use with good Braille and print lettering.  Tactile maps are a great idea and will come in useful for loads of travellers.“

Neil Heslop, Managing Director, RNIB Solutions, added:

“We’re pleased to have worked with Virgin Trains in finding an effective solution to make the stations they manage more accessible for people living with sight loss. We will continue to work with industry to look at other ways in which people living with sight loss can travel with greater confidence and independence.”

Debbie Ambler, Virgin Trains Programme Delivery Manager, said: 

“We are committed to working with partners like RNIB to find new ways to make journeys more accessible and enjoyable for all our customers. The tactile maps at stations across our network allow blind and partially sighted customers freedom and independence when travelling. Both at stations and on board our trains, we encourage our people to go the extra mile to offer brilliant service to all our customers. We also have a dedicated team that disabled customers and their friends and family can contact in advance to plan for their journey.”

Customers with disabilities are also encouraged to contact the Virgin Trains Assisted Travel team. They can help with planning journeys, buying tickets, reserving seats and wheelchair space, help at stations, changing trains and on reaching destinations. 

Customers with a disability that makes travelling by train difficult may qualify for discounted travel – ask the Virgin Trains Assisted Travel Team for details.


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