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Access Advisory Panel

To keep on improving Southern services for our passengers with accessibility needs, we work together with a passenger-led panel of volunteers.

The panel’s role

Our Access Advisory Panel provides us with support and guidance in providing a network where everyone has the confidence to travel. The panel consists of volunteer passengers who share their travel experiences and give constructive feedback.

The Panel was brought together to represent the needs of all of our passengers, including:

  • Passengers with visual/hearing impairments
  • Passengers travelling with young children
  • Elderly passengers requiring assistance when travelling
  • Passengers with hidden disabilities
  • Passengers with physical disabilities

This important Panel meets every two months to share their views and put practical ideas for improvements before our senior managers. Their recommendations will help to us to continue to enhance accessibility on our trains and at our stations.

We’re committed to making our services safe and comfortable for everyone. Visit our Assisted Travel page to learn more about the other ways we’re improving accessibility across our network.

Current panel members

Fiona

My name is Fiona and I live in Bexhill. I am a wheelchair user with a Canine Partner and we are frequent rail travellers. I love the freedom of travelling by train and seeing the South Downs by train is one of my favourite views. My main journey is between Bexhill and Gatwick Airport. As a regular rail and air passenger, I am passionate about improving accessibility on our rail network.

Gill

I joined the AAP 3 years ago my focus is hidden disabilities and young people with special needs.

I am semiretired now but commuted to London all my working life and still travel widely on public transport (mostly Great Northern services from zone 6). I have worked in customer services, twenty years with the NHS and twenty years in private medical practices. As well being a member of the AAP I work as a volunteer with my local resident’s association.

Since working with the AAP I have become acutely aware of how good and bad accessibility can be not just on trains but all sorts of places and I have had some interesting conversations in hotels, restaurants, shops etc. and even at the Polling Station.

Jonathon

I live in Coulsdon and am a wheelchair user; my typical daily commute is from Coulsdon South to Victoria and then from Victoria to Coulsdon Town. I also use the train regularly to travel to London Bridge, Blackfriars and St Pancras, the last of which is usually used as a transit point before travelling onto Durham, Newcastle and York.

I applied to join the Panel as I was becoming increasingly frustrated with Southern following a number of incidents, and I though the best way to change that for me and other travellers with specific access needs was working with Southern, and now Thameslink. Since joining the panel there has been a definite improvement, including step-free access onto the train at the central London Thameslink stations, better customer service and a far greater understanding of how best to address the access requirements of those traveling by train. It’s not perfect, and there’s still more to do, and things do occasionally still go wrong, but those incidents are less frequent and quickly remedied, and I am sure that it is in no small part due to the support that Southern and GTR have provided, and their active listening and acting on the feedback from the panel.

Mark

Hello, I’m Mark. I live in Brighton and commute to London daily, either via Southern / Gatwick Express to Victoria or Thameslink via Farrington, depending on what I have planned. I applied to join the AAP to represent those of us who, like me, have hidden disabilities and because I believe if you want any kind of issue to be improved then you should also be prepared to get involved and try to be part of the solution. I am very proud of the work that the AAP does and, through it, have gained a much better understanding of the genuine challenges facing the train companies - but also how hard many of its employees are trying to make things better for us all - the AAP being a great example. It might not always look, or feel, like that is the case but by volunteering you gain both an understanding, and a voice, and I recommend it to anyone who as an interest.

David

Hi, my name is David and I live just outside of Peterborough. I travel on the East Coast line often for work. I love the direct access being a panel member gives me to the GOVIA team. On my journeys I have been able to report back best practices that I have seen and also raise any issues or concerns I have. It has given me a deeper understanding of the challenges facing such a large network with many older listed premises. I love the enthusiasm and creativeness of the panel to overcome any barriers to accessibility. It is nice to feel like a valuable member of the Govia Thameslink team and I look forward to our meetings. It really is a space to create meaningful change.

Yusuf

I have travelled independently since 1995 and therefore have a great deal of experience of making use of many forms of public transport. As a blind traveller I have experienced barriers to my independence some of which have been reduced over time. I am a firm believer in participation in order to help improve things further. I have a PhD in Ottoman history and enjoy reading, cooking, walking, following Manchester United and the English Cricket Team.