Given the significant and rising number of Australians living with a disability, there is a need for passenger rail operators to be constantly engaged in quality assurance and improvement activities to ensure accessibility for all customers. In addition, current Australian rail operator exemptions under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) expire in 2020.

Given the pace of technological developments across a range of sectors, it is possible that technologies or small-scale engineering solutions exist, that potentially incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) or draw on existing big data (with associated Machine Learning (ML)) that could translate across to rail travel experience for people with a disability and allow rail operators to further raise their accessibility service levels. It is also possible that innovations are being used internationally in the rail industry that have not yet been identified for use in Australia.

This project will search for and identify innovations and technologies across the rail and a targeted range of other sectors internationally, with potential for translation to improve accessibility in the passenger rail sector in Australia. This project will therefore identify a small range of innovations that have potential to positively enhance the experience of people with disabilities who use the passenger rail network in Australia and continue to demonstrate the rail industry’s commitment to delivering a world class service for all passengers.

This project is designed to complement work currently commissioned by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) which is directly focussed on DDA compliance. Significantly, the current proposed project also incorporates an international collaboration with the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) in the United Kingdom. RSSB will undertake a rail accessibility initiatives horizon scan, with input from the team in this project, with the results informing the current project.