Disabled Persons Railcard

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The Disabled Persons Railcard enables passengers with reduced mobility to travel at one-third off many fares on Great Britain’s National Rail network.

Card and discounts[edit]

The card is available as a one-year validity card for £20 and as a three-year validity card for £54. The Railcard holder can take another adult with them at the same discount rate.

All franchised train operating companies in Great Britain must accept the Railcard and offer discounts under terms set out in the Railways Act 1993. The Railcard is managed by Rail Delivery Group. It is aimed at people who have the most difficulty using rail for a reason relating to their disability. Its purpose is to encourage people to use the train and to reduce the cost for those who need to be accompanied by a carer.


British Rail (BR) introduced the Disabled Persons Railcard in 1981 to mark the International Year of Disabled Persons. Sir Peter Parker was Chairman of BR at the time and the British Railways Board included Tom Libby and wheelchair user Bill Buchanan, who was "Special Adviser on the Disabled".[1]

Tom Libby and Bill Buchanan together with Sir Bert Massie (RADAR) were tasked to design and develop the Disabled Persons Railcard. The basic rules of the Railcard were originally jotted down on a beer mat when Tom Libby and Sir Bert Massie had gone for a drink one evening after work. At the time, when the Railcard was in the early stages, Tom Libby and Sir Bert Massie did not know which British Rail department would be dealing with the developments, so they temporarily named it Dept XXX. For many years after the Railcard's launch, applications had to be sent to Dept XXX, British Rail.[citation needed]

The Railcard initially cost £5. Its price increased to £14 in the 1990s and then in 2006 to £18. A three-year Railcard was also introduced in September 2006 at £48.

The price increased again in January 2011, to its current cost of £20 for a year. The three year railcard was increased the same year, costing £54. (£18 per year). As of August 2019, these prices are still in effect.[2]

Qualifying disabilities[edit]

Applicants must submit evidence to show that their disability makes them eligible for a Disabled Persons Railcard. This includes having visual and hearing impairments, epilepsy or a number of allowances available to disabled people. Current eligibility criteria are shown on the Disabled Persons Railcard website.

Disabled people and trains[edit]

Historically, the design of most British trains did not enable wheelchair users to travel in the main passenger area. Passenger doors were too narrow and the fixed seating layout did not give wheelchair users space to manoeuvre. When wheelchair users could travel by rail, it was in the guard’s van.

The introduction of High Speed Trains and sliding door carriages in the 1970s and 1980s, did much to improve access for disabled passengers, especially with wider doors and priority seating giving people more leg room.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 introduced design standards for the future design and construction of public transport vehicles. So, in November 1998 the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations were introduced. These had a significant impact on the design of new trains and refurbishment of existing ones. Rail Vehicle Regulations also formed the basis of the TSI-PRM, a European standard for heavy rail vehicles accessibility.

Issuing the Disabled Persons Railcard[edit]

The Disabled Persons Railcard was first issued from an administration office at York station. Initially, issuing was a manual procedure as there were no computers. This continued until rail privatisation in the mid-1990s, when issuing work was taken over by a British Telecom office at Newcastle – a computerised database was introduced, although ticket issuing remained a manual process.

In 2008, issuing arrangements moved to Scottish contact centre operator, Journeycall, based in Brechin, Angus, and Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire. This move also saw the introduction of automated ticket issuing systems and increased call centre opening hours (available between 07.00 and 22.00 every day except Christmas Day). In 2014, Journeycall moved from its Brechin and Laurencekirk offices to a new contact centre at Arbroath in Angus.[3]

Each application form is checked to ensure correct qualification, with renewal reminders issued to Railcard holders.

Numbers of holders[edit]

Since its 1981 launch over a million Disabled Persons Railcards have been issued, with the millionth issued in 2008. Currently, there are over 190,000 Disabled Persons Railcard holders, with a goal of expanding numbers further to enable as many disabled people (and accompanying companions) as possible to travel through Great Britain at a discount rate.

Marketing the Disabled Persons Railcard[edit]

Management and marketing of the Railcard is led by the Disability & Inclusion and National Railcards teams at Rail Delivery Group in London.


  1. ^ "BR Chairman Announces Railcard for Disabled People" (PDF). Cheshire Smile. Vol. 24. Leonard Cheshire Foundation. Spring 1981. p. 28. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  2. ^ "The Benefits". Disabled Persons Railcard (Official Site). Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Call centre firm creates 100 jobs at new Arbroath hub". BBC News. 23 October 2014. Archived from the original on 25 February 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.

External links[edit]