GREAT Western Railway (GWR) has been recognised as an autism-friendly environment by the National Autistic Society.

The award comes after work by the railway operator to create an ‘autism-friendly’ environment, making it easier for autistic people to be able to travel on its services.

Among the initiatives introduced by GWR as part of its work since June 2023 has involved training more than 700 frontline colleagues between Plymouth and Penzance in autism awareness, allowing the staff greater understanding in neurodiversity.

Other GWR initiatives commended by the National Autistic Society include the creation of audio-visual packages such as a sound-series that allows autistic people to understand the sounds they may experience when travelling by train and the creation of virtual video tour of stations to better allow people to navigate the station prior to arrival, available on the GWR Youtube channel.

In addition, the operator has made ear defenders available at staffed stations to support passengers who experience over-stimulation or sensory overload as well as continuing and further advertising their ‘try a train’ in which individuals or groups can be given a structured experience to further develop their travelling confidence.

Dan Pearce, GWR Senior Accessibility Mentor, said: "We at GWR are committed to our customers, helping all those who wish to travel by train to be able to do so. This includes working to provide as accessible and supportive environment as we are able to - recognising everyone has different needs and expectations.

"This award recognises the work we have done to better accommodate the needs of autistic people, and we will continue to look for opportunities to extend these tools across our network and make the railway accessible for all."

Christine Flintoft-Smith, Head of Autism Accreditation at the National Autistic Society, said: “We'd like to congratulate GWR on achieving our new Autism Friendly Award. Every organisation that gains the Autism Friendly Award will be helping to make the UK a more autism-friendly place and make a difference to the lives of autistic people and their families.

“There are lots of small changes which businesses can make to better support autistic people, and just a little understanding can go a long way. We're looking forward to working with as many businesses as possible to help create a society that works for autistic people.”