Disability news

Virtual tour of Witham rail station will help people travel with confidence

the online virtual tour of Witham rail station

Train operator, Greater Anglia, has launched an online virtual tour of Witham rail station to help people travel with confidence.

The tour has been designed to support journey planning, give passengers a clearer picture of the station before they travel, and reduce anxiety about how they’ll get around. It is particularly helpful for disabled people wanting to check accessible routes through the station.

Using the virtual tour, people can find out how to get to all public areas, including the toilets, ticket machines, platforms, bus stop, and neighbouring taxi rank.

Detailed 360-degree photography lets users travel round the station realistically, and aerial photography and an interactive map show the location of all the facilities in relation to each other.

Key features can be navigated directly through a drop-down menu system, while the ‘autopilot’ tool gives users the option of selecting their destination and being automatically guided to it. 

Greater Anglia already has virtual tours available online for 18 of its busiest stations for Passenger Assistance, as well for its entire new train fleet (covering all train types).

Members of Greater Anglia’s Accessibility Panel, a group of disabled customers who meet regularly with the train operator, offered feedback during the development of the virtual tours and have been supportive of the project.

The technology was provided by a company called The Virtual Tour Experts and the tour has been designed to be accessible. A spoken scene guide with closed captions plays on the home page at the station entrance and it features an accessibility widget that enables the user to change to high contrast, large font size or audio transcription. Future developments will look at incorporating British Sign Language videos.

Greater Anglia’s Accessibility and Inclusion Manager, Rebecca Richardson, said: “The idea was to create a tool for customers to assist them with their journey planning and reduce the anxiety about whether the station would create any accessibility barriers, so that they can travel with confidence.

“We are committed to making rail more accessible and providing quality information to enable more informed journey planning.

360-degree virtual tours are now available for 18 of Greater Anglia’s busiest stations – Bishop’s Stortford, Broxbourne, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Cheshunt, Colchester, Ely, Harlow Town, Ingatestone, Ipswich, London Liverpool Street, Manningtree, Marks Tey, Norwich, Shenfield, Southend Victoria, Stansted Airport, and Witham.

In addition, Greater Anglia’s new trains are also much more accessible and easier to use than the trains they replaced, so rail journeys across the region are much more straightforward for many travellers than was previously the case.

[ The tours can be viewed on the Greater Anglia website on any device and the addition of more stations is planned in the future. ]

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