MACS Response to the Transport Select Committee’s Draft Rail Reform Bill - March 2024

MACS’s remit is to consider the needs of disabled persons in connection with transport in Scotland and to advise the Scottish Ministers about those matters that the Committee thinks are appropriate.

Despite the devolved aspects of the rail system, reflected in the Draft Bill, the wider provisions will have an impact on Scotland, particularly as accessibility remains a reserved matter, and we are commenting on that basis. Following the advice in your call for evidence, we have tried to keep our comments succinct.


MACS welcomes the general principles of the Bill. Our experience as passengers of the current rail system is that it does lack a ‘guiding mind’ and that the introduction of one creates the potential to improve the cohesiveness and efficiency of the whole system.


MACS particularly welcomes the continuing role for the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee as set out in Clause 11. We have good working relations with DPTAC and believe it serves a vital role in contributing to the improvement of the accessibility of the rail system.

Business Plan and Accessibility

We believe that the Business Plan, mandated by Clause 1, section 4b, must include improvements to the accessibility of the railway and that this requirement should be included on the face of the Bill.

Annual Reporting and Accessibility

The Great British Railways Transition Team has done some ground-breaking work on improving the accessibility of the rail system in Great Britain. For the first time ever, a survey has been undertaken of every station in the country to establish what its facilities are for disabled passengers, e.g., step-free access, disabled toilets, etc. This work reveals a large gap, not surprisingly as the rail system was, of course, largely developed in the Victorian era with little or no consideration of disabled passengers. However, the survey does underline the scale of the challenge facing the railways, and for this reason, we believe that the Integrated Rail Body should have a responsibility to report annually on steps to improve the accessibility of the railway, as well as privatisation as set out in Clause 1 section 4c.

We believe that a commitment to the inclusion of accessibility in planning and reporting will help to ensure that this important aspect is not lost in the shift to a new management structure for the railways and retains a central role. For this reason, we believe these requirements should be on the face of the Bill.

Devolved Arrangements

We have no comment on the devolved Scottish arrangements of the franchise functions of Scottish ministers as set out in section 71c.

Simon Watkins
Rail Lead
On behalf of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland