Travel Training for Disabled People in Suffolk

Young people and adults at Ipswich station taking part in the Travel Training Service

An innovative initiative is helping disabled people and people with learning disabilities in Suffolk to gain experience of travelling on public transport.

The Travel Training Service from Essex County Council works with young people and adults to travel independently and with confidence on trains, buses, and walking routes. The scheme also aims to improve access to education, jobs, and leisure.

Suffolk County Council has commissioned the service and the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, Greater Anglia and Essex County Council’s Travel Training Service team recently took several young people and adults on a rail journey from Ipswich to Felixstowe. Twenty students aged 16 to 25 learned how to buy a ticket, how to board safely, and how to stay safe at the rail station. Travel trainers also guided the students through the booking assistance process and how to locate customer service.

Participants are supported by the team of travel trainers on a one-to-one basis who accompany them on journeys until they develop the skills to travel on their own.

Essex County Council delivers the training to people who live in Suffolk, Essex, Ealing, and Southend. In Suffolk alone, the scheme has so far enabled more than 700 young people and adults to become independent travellers.

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Essex Travel Training Manager, Theresa Salmon, said:

“The benefits of Travel Training are far reaching and lifelong, not only for the individual, but for their parents and carers and the community, providing access to education and jobs.’

“Working with the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership and Greater Anglia on the Try a Train event gave our students the opportunity to travel on a train and meet new friends. For some of the group it was the first time they had been on the train. These activities help alleviate some of their fears and allows them to see how travelling by train is safe.

“We are very grateful to the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership and Greater Anglia for supporting this event and to all Greater Anglia staff who were involved. We would also like to thanks Suffolk County Council for commissioning the service for its residents”

Greater Anglia’s Accessibility and Inclusion Manager, Rebecca Richardson, said:

“The railway is a vital link for communities to access a range of services, and for leisure and work, so we are really pleased to be involved in this scheme which can help give people the confidence to start travelling by train.”

“We are fully committed to making our railway more accessible and offer support and information to anyone who needs assistance, either through staff at stations or our Passenger Assistance service.”