Working with people with disabilities

Engaging people with disabilities brings a wide range of benefits. By working together, you can:

  • help people to learn new skills and gain new qualifications
  • create more welcoming stations through gardening and other projects
  • build the railway’s reputation as an inclusive sector that gets the whole community involved
  • help new audiences to travel by train

The first step is to talk to your rail operator (or your local Community Rail Partnership if you are in the UK). The operator will hold the key to what kinds of projects might be possible.


Confident Traveller project
Aberystwyth (UK)

This project by the Cambrian Rail Partnership involves ‘Vocational Access Students’ from College Ceredigion, Aberystwyth. The students, having severe learning difficulties lacked the confidence to travel independently on trains.

They were shown how to plan and undertake rail journeys, with learning taking place in their classrooms and in railway environments. These young people now regularly travel by train between two local stations, as official station adopters, tending and creating gardens. Confidence levels have greatly increased, and independent travel is their new goal. Watch the Confident Traveller video.

Robert Owen Communities
Torquay (UK)

The First Great Western Station Adoption project with Robert Owen Communities gives people with learning disabilities the opportunity to learn new skills and to work towards a nationally recognised qualification.

The group’s weekly gardening work at Torquay station was recognised at the UK’s 2014 Community Rail Awards, when the project came third in the Best Station Gardens category. Tulips for the project were supplied by Citizens’ Rail’s Dutch partner, Parkstad Limburg. The group are now working to brighten neighbouring Torre station too. Read more.

Devon Access Wallet
Devon (UK)

The Devon Access Wallet scheme is an initiative to help make journeys by bus or train easier for anyone with communication difficulties or people with disabilities.

Users show their wallet to bus or train staff, letting them know that they may need help. The wallet contains words and/or photos showing where the user wants to go. It can also contain questions or requests, such as “Which platform do I need to go to?” or “Please tell me when we reach my stop”.
Read more.

Hear from people who’ve done it

In this video, hear from First Great Western and ROC staff – as well as learners themselves – about the Torquay station adoption project.

Working twice a week in all weathers, the station platforms have been transformed with planting and the reclamation of a large rockery.

This has not only improved the look and feel of the station but has enabled the young people to gain confidence, social interaction and nationally recognised qualifications to help them into employment.


If you have your own case studies, resources or ideas to contribute to this (or any other) section of the toolkit, please get in touch.

Email our lead partner DCRP or call +44 1752 584777 to speak to our lead partner, the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership.

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