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Blueprint for improved travel for disabled passengers

TOC Ability is a new digital platform providing a blueprint for removing barriers to travel for disabled passengers. The £1.4 million TOC Ability research and development project has today released its final report, which shows how digital technology can be harnessed to enhance the accessibility and inclusivity of rail services for disabled customers.

Nick Goss, Managing Director of accessibility consultants Goss Consultancy said: “By making it easier to access assistance at stations and carry out rail journeys, TOC Ability aims to encourage more disabled people to travel with confidence by train. This will make it easier for all customers to access jobs, education, leisure and social activities.”

The TOC Ability platform was successfully tried and tested by customers with accessibility needs across the UK throughout November 2018. The trials featured scenarios which disabled passengers regularly experience, on long and short distance train journeys, with routes operated by different Train Operating Companies (TOCs) and interchanges of varying complexity.


Caption: Customers are assisted during the trial by a station employee using the TOC Ability system

Made up of seven partner organisations from across the rail industry and academia, the TOC Ability consortium has worked together since April 2016 to create a digital platform to share the journey requirements of disabled customers with TOCs, enabling location-specific assistance management across passengers’ end-to-end journeys, while protecting user privacy.

Chris Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of Enable iD, which developed the identity governance software that powers TOC Ability, said: “We know from recent government research that on average people with a disability make 88% fewer journeys by rail than other passengers, while the rail sector faces ever-increasing pressure to enable all customers to access the network and experience better journeys. TOC Ability can help to overcome this challenge and give disabled customers the confidence they need to travel by train.”

The findings from the trial indicate that customers valued the solution: 80% of trial participants were keen to use the system again, with 86% saying TOC Ability would give them the confidence to embark on unfamiliar journeys. Furthermore, TOC representatives appreciated the provision of in-depth information about passenger’s mobility needs: 92% of employees said the solution made it easier to help passengers when assistance was requested in advance.

Zoe Shute, TOC Ability Project Manager from Atkins (a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group), continued: “The recent user trials demonstrate that the TOC Ability solution is a cost-effective and flexible way of improving accessibility and inclusivity on the rail network. Using digital technology in this way means that we don’t need to wait for long-term planned infrastructure enhancements to provide a better service to all passengers now.”

TOC Ability has been designed to meet international governance standards for data protection, and to ensure the GB rail industry is compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation act in respect of the sharing and management of sensitive passenger data.


[emaillocker id=13181]TOC Ability Final Report[/emaillocker]


Visit the TOC Ability microsite:

Editor’s notes

  1. The TOC Ability consortium is made up of: Atkins (a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group), Arriva UK Trains, Enable iD, Goss Consultancy Ltd, Loughborough University, Transport for London, University of Surrey.
  2. The TOC Ability project is part-funded by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB)
  3. Chris Thompson refers to the Department for Transport’s National Travel Survey (2015)
  4. Further information about how data protection/ privacy works within the solution: TOC Ability protects personally identifiable information by using a unique consent management system, which can be integrated within train operators’ booking, mobile app and passenger relationship management systems. It is being designed to meet international governance standards for data protection, and to ensure the GB rail industry is compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation act in respect of sharing and management of sensitive passenger data.
  5. The TOC Ability project, led by Enable ID and project managed by Atkins, concluded in December 2018
  6. To find out more about the project, please see
  7. For any further enquiries, please contact and