Virgin Trains is committed to making train travel accessible and enjoyable for all.
Last year the Virgin Trains team – in collaboration with Amazon – commenced selling tickets to customers through JourneyCare, via Alexa-enabled devices. The JourneyCare feature is available for anyone requiring assisted travel, and caters especially for those with visual impairment or mobility issues.
Following on from this, Virgin Trains launched communication cards for passengers with 'invisible disabilities'. JAM cards – JAM standing for “Just A Minute” – can be presented physically or on an app and exist to break down communication barriers.
Continuing this commitment to making train travel accessible for all, this week Virgin Trains opened the doors to ‘The Calm Corner’ at Crewe station – a room specifically designed to offer customers with hidden disabilities a safe and calm environment.
The room is the first of its kind on a UK railway network and features the following:
- Use of grey and green colours to give a calming effect;
- A living wall and plants to complement the colour scheme;
- Specially designed furniture for comfort and relaxation;
- Childs’ play table;
- LED rope lighting that can change brightness to suit;
- Screens with old images of Crewe station and town centre to help trigger memories for those suffering from dementia;
- Railpoint Totem offering helpful advice (EG train and station layout).
The idea was brought to life with the help of Network Rail, London Northwestern Railway and SLC Rail with advice from Direct Access on room layout and Boss Design for choice of furniture.
“We want to make travelling by train as easy as possible for everyone,” explained Victoria Whitehouse, inclusion lead at Virgin Trains. “The Calm Corner is somewhere people can escape from a very busy station and it will hopefully encourage those with hidden disabilities to have the confidence to travel by train.”
To support the opening of The Calm Corner, members of the Virgin Trains team at Crewe have undergone training to help them identify those customers in need of help, distinguishing between the different types of hidden disabilities and how best to respond to and support someone that may be having difficulty with the station environment.
Jon Harris, integrated transport and accessibility manager for London Northwestern Railway, said: “The Calm Room is an important addition to Crewe station, and working closely with our partners and other train operators is key to providing a positive experience for all passengers – no matter what accessibility challenges they face.