Minister Ross has today announced additional funding this year for two priority areas in our rail system – accessibility for people with disabilities and security on the network.
Funding of €160,000 is being provided for the second phase of an Accessibility App project for rail users with disabilities which is aimed at addressing some of the key communication breakdowns that occur with the current phone call process. The technology will allow users to pre-book a journey that confirms they will have assistance by a member of Irish Rail staff at their departure and arrival stations and provide them with support in an emergency.
Minister Ross said “I am very conscious that vision impaired and mobility impaired train users can experience high levels of anxiety when planning or taking a rail journey. Some users, who have bad experiences in the past, do not have confidence in the current system fearing a process failure which could leave them stranded and vulnerable at stations or on trains. This is not acceptable and that is why I am providing this additional funding for the Accessibility App.”
Earlier this year Minister Ross allocated funding of €200,000 for the first phase of the Accessibility App project. Following on from which Irish Rail are currently looking for volunteers who have mobility and vision impairments and who are regular DART users, to become part of a research panel which will include live testing of a prototype of the app. Details can be found at http://www.irishrail.ie/access-dart-app
“I would encourage those who would benefit from this technology to volunteer for the research panel so that they can provide the necessary feedback and input to ensure the app meets their needs,” the Minister said.
The Accessibility App is being designed to Level AAA which is the highest internationally recognised standard for accessible Web content. Subject to successful testing, Irish Rail plans to roll it out on DART services and then onto commuter services, beginning in early 2019.
Meanwhile, the Minister has also announced that a further €115,000 has been allocated to Iarnród Éireann to provide additional security for passengers, staff and property over the busy Christmas period.
Irish Rail is to spend €100,000 of this on extra security patrols on evening Dart and commuter services between Dublin city centre and Howth, Drogheda, Maynooth, Kildare and Greystones. These patrols will be in addition to Iarnród Éireann’s existing measures to safeguard the travelling public against anti-social behaviour and the company’s longstanding strong working relationship with An Garda Síochána.
Minister Ross said: “Each year, the Christmas period has the potential to throw up particular challenges in terms of anti-social behaviour, including on public transport. While the vast majority of journeys occur without incident, I am concerned to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to ensure safety on our rail network. My Department is therefore providing these additional funds to Irish Rail in order to reassure passengers and staff that they will be able to travel and work in safety and peace over the forthcoming festive season.”
The remaining €15,000 of the extra funds will be used by Irish Rail to provide additional security personnel at fleet-maintenance depots in order to counter the threat of vandalism, including graffiti attacks on trains.