Campaigner Miriam Ricci, above, is leading an initiative to encourage rail passengers with disabilities to gain access to the countryside.

As a first step she is establishing accessible walks from three stations in the Bristol area – Yatton, Severn Beach and Bradford-on-Avon, in a project funded by Great Western Railway and with help from the Severnside Community Rail Partnership and the Bristol Physical Access Chain.

She is inviting volunteers with disabilities and/or mobility constraints to evaluate the walks and the rail journeys that give them access.

She said: “If you have a particular condition because of age, health or some other reason that somehow restricts your mobility I would like to hear from you.

“The walks have been audited and risk-assessed by a walking guide and two wheelchair users, members of the Bristol Physical Access Chain and Disabled Ramblers.”

Activity 1

You and your carer, family member or friend will be invited to take part in at least one guided walk from one of these three stations, with a small group of people, at Yatton on Sunday 3 November 2019 for a walk along the Strawberry line, Severn Beach; on Saturday 9 November 2019 for a short coastal walk along the Severn estuary; or Bradford-on-Avon on Tuesday 12 November 2019 for a short canal and river walk.

Dr Ricci, a senior research fellow at the University of the West of England, said: “You will travel with the group from Bristol Temple Meads. Train times will be confirmed as soon as possible, but we expect to leave between 1000-1100 and come back between 1400-1600.

“It includes stops at a café during the walk and a lunch break. Train fares, refreshments and lunch will be provided by the project (at no cost to you).

“As part of my research, I will ask you and your carer to provide some feedback on your experience, during and after the walks, for example by completing a short questionnaire or answering some questions verbally, depending on your needs and preferences.

“After the walk, I will also invite you and your carer to tell me more about your experience in a longer interview of about one hour, which can take place at a time and place of your choice. If you agree to do this, I will give you a £10 shopping voucher to thank you for your time.”

Activity 2

You and your carer with a family member or a friend will be invited to take part in a ticket-booking test with a small group of people, which will take place at Temple Meads station on Tuesday 26 November 2019 between 1100 and 1400. It will involve booking a return train journey to a local station (for example Bath Spa) using the ticket office, the ticket machines and/or online using an app, as well as booking Passenger Assist for this journey.

Volunteers will need to decide when and where to travel prior to the booking test. The volunteers will complete a survey about the train journey experience, including the experience with Passenger Assist. The ticket will be paid for by the project and all the technologies needed will be provided, as well as refreshments and lunch.

All the information will be kept confidential. Only anonymised feedback will be used in the project report and in the research study.

If you want to take part in either or both of the activities (one or both), please contact Miriam preferably by email. She will answer any questions.

Each activity group needs to be balanced in terms of age, gender and types of mobility constraints, so a selection may be made among those who apply.

Contact details:
Email: miriam.ricci at
Twitter @RicciMiriam
Senior Research Fellow  Centre for Transport & Society
Department of Geography and Environmental Management - Faculty of Environment & Technology
University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, BRISTOL BS16 1QY
Office location: Room 3Q83
Tel: 00 44 (0)117 32 83798