Smart tech rail ticket machines not fit for Disabled people

Wed,11 January 2023
News Transport
Disability Rights UK is concerned that some new changes which are coming to train stations that could catch-out travellers using smart systems and ticket vending machines inappropriately may coincidently cause unnecessary worry for Disabled and older passengers, particularly for those who are neurodivergent, or have learning disabilities or sight impairments.

New technology is currently being introduced to the ticket gates of many train stations which is designed to catch out people looking to travel using incorrect tickets. Train companies insist the technology will "quickly and accurately" check if a ticket is valid and this will alert staff if the ticket requires any additional checks. That means anyone travelling on a railcard supported ticket could be asked to produce ID or other proof and staff will then check the ticket's validity, and maybe take appropriate action.

Some train service providers have already trialled the technology, and during trials at one major north west station up to 1000 people were caught out by the new technology. Penalty fares worth over £1,500 were issued to those caught travelling on incorrect tickets produced during the trial.

DR UK Rail Policy Adviser Stephen Brookes said: “While we accept that such technology will be valuable for revenue protection to ensure tickets are valid and associated checks are carried out quickly and efficiently, due to the small minority of customers who try to travel on tickets they know they’re not eligible to use, we want to ensure that companies note that there is a real danger that many older and Disabled people who are not fully cognisant of using new and smart technology may be caught unawares and be challenged unfairly by access challenges within this new system.”