Group photo outside Maidenhead train station

Theresa May joins celebration for specialist travel training programme and station adoption.

Maidenhead MP Theresa May joined Optalis Supported Employment Team, Great Western Railway and Southeast Communities Rail Partnership at a special event to celebrate the success of the ‘Try a Train’ programme and station adoption at Maidenhead Station. 

Social care organisation, Optalis in partnership Southeast Communities Rail Partnership and GWR embarked on a new Rail Partnership project earlier this year; with a ‘Try a Train’ programme. So far, the programme has successfully supported 69 people with disabilities and additional needs discover freedom and greater independence through train travel. 

At a special Rail Partnership event the Ability Travel team, part of the Optalis Supported Employment Service, were present at the Station to celebrate the achievements of this exciting new project and to raise awareness of the Try a Train project, which has recently been extended.

Donna Morgans, Head of Supported Employment at Optalis, explains: 

“Our Try a Train project aims to show people about the benefits and adjustments available with rail travel. We offer support and advice to find ways to make rail travel more accessible. Using public transport not only gives people more freedom and is better for the environment, but it can also help those looking for work by bringing more opportunities within reach."

During the event, the team announced their ambition to adopt the Maidenhead Train station through the Rail Partnership Adopt a Station scheme. Teaming up to support Ability Travel with the station adoption are volunteers from Optalis Community Lives. Representatives from Community Lives were at the station during the event to share with other rail users’ information and insight into the lives of people with learning disabilities and to celebrate the adoption of the station.

Donna Morgans added – 

“We look forward to our continued partnership opening up more opportunities to allow us to share our expertise, and resources to help inform and implement ways to make the station accessible for all to navigate their way around in a safe and secure way.”

GWR Business Development Director Tom Pierpoint said: 

“We were really pleased to help fund this project as part of the support we give to Community Rail Partnerships across the Great Western Railway. 'Try a Train’ is a fantastic programme which has helped to give people of all ages the confidence to travel safely and independently on our network.”

The goal of both programmes is to improve travel options, passenger experience, and accessibility. Activities like these will help to revitalise stations and improve the accessibility of rail travel, making it valuable to passengers and the communities they serve.

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