ScotRail announced in May that it has taken further steps to improve journeys for passengers with two major improvements to make every day trips easier.

The news that Scotland’s rail operator will provide frontline mental health training to staff was followed by the launch of a new app to aid deaf customers travelling on ScotRail services, in news that will be appreciated by travellers the length and breadth of the country.

More than 50 ScotRail staff will receive the mental health first aid training, which will allow them to provide guidance and signpost support services to anyone who is experiencing problems. The training will involve fully-accredited NHS material and will help staff to identify someone who is developing a mental health issue and then guide them to the relevant service.

In response to the announcement ScotRail’s Occupational Health Manager Nadya Kuhl said that “we know the importance of engaging and identifying the signs of someone in need of support, and how critical this can be to helping with treatment, and ultimately saving lives”. Tom Scott, an Equality Consultant at ‘See Me’ which is aiming to end mental health discrimination, said that “It’s great to see the action that ScotRail are taking to give their staff the confidence and knowledge to have open and supportive conversations on mental health.”

This was then followed by the roll out of a ground breaking new app called InterpreterNow to support travellers who are deaf or have hearing difficulties as they make their way around Scotland’s railways. The pioneering app is designed to allow ScotRail to aid deaf customers in any part of their journey, from information on trains during time of disruption to customer queries at stations or ticket offices. Customers will sign to an interpreter via the app through a video call, who will then relay the customer query to the member of ScotRail staff. The interpreter will then be able to sign the answer back to the customer.

Andy Irvine, Cheap Operations Director (Scotland) at InterpreterNow said he was delighted with the collaboration, emphasising how important it was for passengers to be comfortable communicating over the course of ScotRail journeys: “Just knowing that access in your own language is available throughout your journey is not far off ground-breaking.”

The collaboration was supported by Janis McDonald from Deafscotland, who encouraged British Sign Language users to register and take advantage of the service, saying that “we see the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 promoting and supporting British Sign Language development as well as ScotRail’s actions as a huge step towards access and integration through travel.”