Rail can be one of the most complex methods of travel for blind or vision impaired passengers and the operator of Adelaide Metro train services, Keolis Downer Adelaide, has moved to improve accessibility and overall safety for travellers with a disability.
Keolis Downer Adelaide is putting on blindfolds and walking in the shoes of South Australians living with blindness and low vision, thanks to Guide Dogs SA/NT Human Guide Training.
Managing Director of Keolis Downer Adelaide, Robert Tatton-Jones, says the company is committed to improving the daily travelling experience for all passengers.
“Our Passenger Service Assistants (PSAs) are already actively putting into practice the effective techniques they’ve learned to safely guide a person who is blind or has low vision at local train stations, platforms, as well as helping them board and disembark a train,” Mr Tatton-Jones says.
“The new training sessions are being conducted at Adelaide Railway Station and it’s a very practical program for our employees, as they experience being blindfolded and also working in the role as a sighted guide.”
Helen Conway who is a Passenger Service Assistant for Keolis Downer, says the Human Guide Training is an invaluable learning curve especially when your eyes are covered and you need to negotiate stairs as well as different railcars.
“My colleague who was acting as a guide, alerted me to the gap between the platform and train, along with the accessible handrails close to the railcar’s door. This was very reassuring and gave me the confidence to take a big step to board the train,” Ms Conway says.
“I’m extremely grateful for the experience to upskill. I have also learnt how to introduce myself and offer assistance to passengers with blindness or low vision – along with the importance of tactile pavement which helps passengers travel safely and independently.”
28 year old Aldinga resident and train passenger Arron Lyall, is now completely blind, and lives with the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis, which has caused Uveitis – a rare condition resulting in eye inflammation and permanent vision loss.
Arron regularly travels to and from the city by train with his Guide Dog Helix, and Keolis Downer’s Sighted Human Guides can now offer greater assistance to him, along with other blind or vision impaired passengers.
Guide Dogs SA/NT Chief Executive Officer Aaron Chia says the Guide Dogs team is proud to be working with Keolis Downer through practical support and education to create a welcoming safe and accessible experience for all commuters using Adelaide Metro train services.
“By providing expert advice to businesses, community groups, individuals, families, carers and associated health professionals, we can help them to provide further support to people living with low vision or blindness.”
Adelaide’s train network stretches across 132 kilometres, six lines and includes 89 stations.
About Keolis Downer
Keolis Downer is a leading operator and integrator of public transport in Australia. With over 5,300+ employees and a presence in five states, Keolis Downer enables 350 million passenger journeys per year. We operate and maintain the largest tram network in the world in Melbourne (Yarra Trams), the light rail network on the Gold Coast (G:link), Adelaide Metro train services and more than 1,300+ buses in NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. We also operate the first multimodal contract delegated to a private operator in Newcastle, operating all modes of transport; bus, light rail, ferry and On Demand services.
Established in 2009, Keolis Downer is a joint venture between Keolis, a leading public transport operator established in 14 countries, and Downer, the leading provider of integrated services in Australia and New Zealand.
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