A FURTHER dispensation against accessibility requirements for rail replacement transport has been granted by the Department for Transport, running until 30 April.

The Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) took effect on 1 January, meaning train operators are required to ensure replacement buses or coaches have appropriate accessibility provision. DfT had previously granted a one-month exemption (‘Informed Sources’, last month), but this has now been extended subject to conditions.

Writing to Rail Delivery Group Chief Executive Paul Plummer, Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris acknowledges assurance provided by Mr Plummer regarding steps taken by the industry at a meeting with the minister. Confirming the exemption, the Minister writes: ‘I accept that were all non-compliant coaches and buses removed from providing rail replacement services there would be a disproportionately negative effect on the provision of rail replacement services for all passengers, given the number of compliant vehicles in the market.’ The minister says a plan from the industry is required to be submitted by the Easter Parliamentary recess.

The conditions attached to the extension are that PSVAR compliant vehicles must be used wherever possible, that alternative accessible transport must be provided where this is not the case, and ‘unnecessary and extended waiting periods’ must be avoided during planned engineering works.