UK government invests in transport accessibility innovations

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The UK Government has announced funding for the five winners of its Accessibility Transport Research and Innovation Grant (TRIG: Accessibility) 2021. The technologies developed by the winners will help to break down the barriers faced by disabled passengers when traveling and improve their journey experience.

The TRIG: Accessibility programme, in partnership with Connected Places Catapult (CPC), is focused on making travel easier and more enjoyable for disabled passengers, while also helping budding innovators and academics to propel their ideas to market more quickly. The winning firms will receive almost £600,000 to launch these innovative projects and the trial period will be completed by the end of November 2021, when the working prototypes will be showcased to the industry.

Winning projects include a system that fully navigates the user from their front door to their destination, taking into account any special requirements, and allowing passengers to video call staff directly to provide support.

A highly realistic virtual reality simulation, immersing users in rail stations and carriages, has also received funding, to help improve staff understanding of the challenges faced by passengers and build the confidence of disabled passengers when travelling on the rail network.

Another project is focused on building a more reliable experience for airport passengers needing assistance, providing an app to improve communication with airport staff.

These five innovative projects will help make our transport network more open, stress-free and simple for disabled passengers,” says Chris Heaton-Harris, accessibility minister for the UK Government. “I’m proud that we’re investing in unique technology to improve accessibility across the UK. We’re committed to making transport accessible for all and this investment, along with the Inclusive Transport Strategy, will build a better, fairer network for the future.”

It is great to be working alongside the Department for Transport Accessibility Policy Team to deliver an expanded TRIG programme to the world of transport accessibility,” says Nicola Yates OBE, CEO, Connected Places Catapult. “The funding that the five winners will receive as part of the TRIG: Accessibility programme, alongside technical and commercial guidance from the Catapult, will enable them to demonstrate their innovative solutions later this year. It is our aim that these solutions will enable access to England’s transport services for passengers who may need support when travelling to connect with the places around them.”

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Lauren is acting associate editor for Traffic Technology International and freelance journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum two busy little girls. She is always in demand!