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Avanti becomes first rail firm to run social media forum for disabled passengers

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·2-min read

Avanti West Coast has become the UK’s first train operator to launch a dedicated social media forum for disabled passengers.

The Facebook group will “enable independent travel for all”, according to the firm, which runs services on the West Coast Main Line.

Disabled passengers can apply to join by searching for “Accessible Rail Travel with Avanti West Coast” on the social network.

A passenger holding a phone
The group has been launched on Facebook (Avanti West Coast/PA)

Members will be able to share experiences with other disabled passengers and receive direct support from the company’s social media team.

Staff have received training on how to recognise barriers that make life harder for disabled people.

Emma Martell, Avanti West Coast’s head of social content, said: “We believe creating a sense of community with our customers through a private forum on social media can add real value for those who may need extra assistance.

“We want to both help them directly and enable them to help others, so everyone feels supported when planning or making a journey.

“By connecting people who have a shared understanding we want to build a support network, where tips and experiences for journeys on our route can be exchanged.

“We hope this platform will help to improve the overall journey experience for disabled customers and encourage more people to travel by train.”

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Ensuring our network is accessible for all passengers is crucial, and it’s positive to see Avanti West Coast creating a dedicated social media community to help those who require extra assistance to travel safely and with confidence.”

Facebook’s community manager Daniel Doherty said: “Over 35 million people in the UK use Facebook groups every month as a powerful way to connect, share their interests, learn new things and support their communities.

“It’s great to see Avanti West Coast using this new Facebook group to connect and offer support to their disabled customers as the world begins to open up, helping them to feel confident when travelling again.”