Virgin Trains has opened the doors to ‘The Calm Corner’ at Crewe station – a room which has been specifically designed to offer customers with hidden disabilities a safe and calm environment.

The inspiration for the room, which is the first of its kind on a UK railway network, came from Megan Hughes who was on work experience with Virgin Trains. She came up with the suggestion based on her personal experience of having Asperger Syndrome.

The idea was brought to life with the help of Network Rail, London Northwestern Railway and SLC Rail with advice from Direct Access on room layout and Boss Design for choice of furniture.

Some of the rooms features include: –

  • Use of grey and green colours to give a calming effect;
  • A living wall and plants to complement the colour scheme;
  • Specially designed furniture for comfort and relaxation;
  • Childs’ play table;
  • LED rope lighting that can change brightness to suit;
  • Screens with old images of Crewe station and town centre to help trigger memories for those suffering from dementia;
  • Railpoint Totem offering helpful advice (EG train and station layout).

“This new room is going to make a massive difference for people using the station,” explained Megan28 from Goostrey, Cheshire. “I know from my own personal experience how daunting it can be when using public transport.”

“I was truly blown away to see it for the first time today. It is so much better than expected and I can’t thank Virgin Trains enough and everyone who helped make this happen.”

Each year over three million journeys are made to and from Crewe, with a further one and half million changes of train at the station, making it the perfect location for The Calm Corner.

“We want to make travelling by train as easy as possible for everyone,” explained Victoria Whitehouse, Inclusion Lead at Virgin Trains. “The Calm Corner is somewhere people can escape from a very busy station and it will hopefully encourage those with hidden disabilities to have the confidence to travel by train.”

The launch of The Calm Corner comes on the back of the roll out of the JAM card (Just a Minute) for those with communications barriers and more recently the Virgin Trains Chat Carriage

To support the opening of The Calm Corner, members of the Virgin Trains team at Crewe have undergone training to help them identify those customers in need of help, distinguishing between the different types of hidden disabilities and how best to respond to and support someone that may be having difficulty with the station environment.

Jon Harris, Integrated Transport and Accessibility Manager for London Northwestern Railway, said: “The Calm Room is an important addition to Crewe station, and working closely with our partners and other train operators is key to providing a positive experience for all passengers – no matter what accessibility challenges they face.

“As part of a year long partnership with Alzheimer’s Society, we are committed to improving our provision for those living with dementia who use services across our network. The dedicated memory corner is a unique feature of the room which we hope will help to bring back memories for those who have travelled on the railway through Crewe for many years.”

Rory Kingdon, senior sponsor at Network Rail said: “It’s a priority for Network Rail and our rail industry partners to provide first-class service to our customers. Travelling through a busy railway station can be daunting for some passengers, but the new Calm Corner provides a calm and safe environment for people with hidden disabilities while they wait for their train.

“We are pleased to contribute to this worthy project that will transform the way passengers access rail travel at Crewe station.”

About Virgin Trains

Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the West Coast inter-city route under the Virgin Trains brand, revolutionising travel on one of the UK’s key rail arteries.

The network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and London.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains ahead of other long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.

Virgin Trains has a proud record of challenging the status quo – from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme, introducing the industry-leading onboard entertainment streaming service, BEAM, and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.

Virgin Trains operated the East Coast route between March 1, 2015 and June 24, 2018. In that time, we invested £75m to create a more personalised travel experience, including over £40m in the existing fleet. Customers have benefitted from 48 additional services between Edinburgh and London every week, and an extra 22 Saturday services between Leeds and London – a total of 1.74 million additional seats since May 2015.

Working together, the partnership railway of the public and private sectors has published a long-term plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity, to change and improve Britain’s railway. The plan will secure almost £85bn of additional economic benefits to the country whilst enabling further investment and improvement, and contains four commitments which will see rail companies: strengthen our economic contribution to the country; improve customers’ satisfaction; boost the communities we serve; and, create more and better jobs in rail.

For more information go to Britain Runs on Rail.