Promoting rail travel for the blind
The Highland Council is to seek the support of the Scottish Government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and First ScotRail to re-instate a scheme which will promote opportunities for blind people to travel by rail.
The Council wants re-instatement of a Scotland-wide discretionary scheme, which allows companions of blind people to travel free on trains.
Blind travel card holders can travel free by rail within Scotland. However, they often require a companion to make travel possible.
From 2002, a local scheme was operated within Highland which provided free rail travel for companions of blind travel-card holders. The local scheme for companions was withdrawn by First Scotrail in 2006-7.
Councillor Fraser Parr, Inverness, championed the cause for the blind at the Council’s recent meeting when it was agreed to write to the Scottish Government, Cosla and First ScotRail to press for the reinstatement of the companions’ discretionary scheme in Highland.
Council Parr said: “This travel concession is imperative if we want to promote equality and have an inclusive society. If reinstated it would mirror the concession on all other types of transport across Scotland and make rail travel a real option for travellers who require the assistance of a companion. If we can have this reinstated then all other users who require the aid of a travelling companion should be considered. When councils or governments negotiate contracts or award franchises they must ensure that disability groups are fully consulted and all their needs addressed.”