The UK rail industry is set to bring out a new smartphone app for assisting passengers with disabilities.

The new Passenger Assist app is designed to help people with a disability to book assistance when they travel by train. Developed by Transreport in partnership with Disability Rights UK, Blind Veterans UK and Anxiety UK, it is currently being tested by four train companies.

The app is also expected to mitigate the shortcomings of the existing, time-consuming systems involving a phone or web-based platform.

The current systems require passengers to provide contact details and specify the assistance they need every time they travel by train.

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“We know we’ve got to do better to improve rail’s accessibility.”

Based on the specifications, station staff receive a printed list of booked assistance each morning, but if the plans change on account of delays or other reasons, the passengers cannot update the list and staff can end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Rail Delivery Group regional director Robert Nisbet said: “We know we’ve got to do better to improve rail’s accessibility.

“We want everyone who has requested assistance to get the help they need, which is why we’re investing in this pioneering technology that has the needs of our customers at its heart.”

West Midlands Railway, London Northwestern Railway, Greater Anglia, and South Western Railway are currently trialling the Passenger Assist app.

The app launch is expected to take place next year with the introduction of a staff version of the app in April.

Passenger Assist includes accessible features, including the ability to change colour themes, fonts and text sizes.

It is designed to allow passengers to book, change and cancel assistance quickly; create a user profile to specify their personal details and the type of assistance they need; as well as provide staff with live information.