Britain’s railway stations go purple to celebrate disabled people worldwide: Purple (1)

Thursday 3 Dec 2020

Britain’s railway stations go purple to celebrate disabled people worldwide

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Rays of purple light will beam from railway stations across the country on Thursday (3 December) as the rail industry joins the global #PurpleLightUp movement and celebrates the contribution of disabled people around the world.

Some of Network Rail’s most iconic stations, including London Waterloo, London Liverpool Street, Bristol Temple Meads and Leeds will be lit up in the internationally recognised colour for disability, to highlight the railways’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This year the coronavirus pandemic has brought many new challenges to the rail industry and has impacted both staff and passengers. Wearing face-coverings and social distancing have made travelling more challenging, especially for passengers with non-visible disabilities. Network Rail has introduced measures to ensure everyone can travel safely and with confidence throughout the pandemic. These have included:

  • The sunflower lanyard scheme a discrete way of recognising those with a non-visible disability, or may be unable to wear a face-covering. More than 10,000 lanyards and exemption cards have been issued to Network Rail managed stations.
  • In stations hand sanitiser has been provided at varying heights
  • Throughout the pandemic Network Rail has continued to provide assistance to those travellers who need extra support. Partitions have been put up on mobility buggies to keep passengers safe.
  • For Network Rail employees, who’ve had to adjust to working at home, Network Rail launched a neurodiversity pack which includes coping strategies and webinars on a range of topics, managing stress, fatigue and managing home-schooling children while managing workloads.

The rail infrastructure company employs more than 800 disabled people and aims to have at least ten per cent of leadership positions filled by disabled people by 2024¹. To attract and retain more talented disabled people within the organisation, the company is working with Evenbreak, an award-winning social enterprise, run by and for disabled people. Network Rail has also been recognised as a finalist in the RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) awards 2020 for their autism recruitment programme.

Loraine Martins, director of diversity and inclusion at Network Rail said:

‘We’ve made some progress towards creating a railway that is a suitable environment for everyone. We are passionate about having an inclusive culture, so that every single passenger can travel confidently and independently and get the right assistance when needed.  And we’ve worked particularly hard over recent months to ensure that disabled passengers get a good service during this difficult time.

“We know there is still more to do which is why we have set ourselves some ambitious targets that we will be working towards between now and 2024.”

#PurpleLightUp is a simple, powerful declaration of solidarity by, and with, disabled people.

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Notes to Editors

Notes to editors

  1. Network Rail is aware that 2.01 per cent of their staff self-report a disability, however, 55.86% have shared they don’t have a disability and 41.15% haven’t shared any data so there may be a higher percentage of disabled staff than those that self-report. Network Rail has challenged themselves to encourage 100 per cent of staff to feel comfortable sharing this data by 2024.

About purple light up

#PurpleLightUp is an international campaign creating purple spaces in a range of creative ways to celebrate the economic and leadership contribution of disabled employees. We’ll be lighting stations up purple across the country.

Stats on disability in the UK

  • Over 1 billion people in the world have some form of health condition or impairment. That's 1 in 7 of us.
  • It can affect all us at any time in our lives.
  • There are over 14 million disabled people in the UK.
  • 7 million people of working age (16-64) reported that they were disabled in April-June 2020, which is 19% of the working age population.
  • Disabled people are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment at work than non-disabled people.
  • The spending power of the 'purple pound' in the UK is estimated to be worth £274 billion a year

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - Lucy Jones
Senior media relations manager
Network Rail
033 0854 3835 / 07734 649248

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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