My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

New railway accessibility book introduces Rupee and Sushi to train users

‘Rupee and Sushi Travel by Train’, the choose your own journey railway accessibility book, has been launched during Community Rail Week.

Written by railway safety auditor and accessibility volunteer Carys R Thomas, with illustrations by artist Donna M Nicholson, the interactive story follows characters Rupee and Sushi, on their first train journey and highlights some of the accessibility features on the railway aimed at improving people’s confidence when travelling.

Melanie Lawton, Community Rail Strategic Lead, Transport for Wales (TfW), said:

“Inspired by their adorable real-life counterparts, Rupee and Sushi are characters that engage the reader to help support a positive journey on our rail network and better connect our communities to their railways safely.”

The book, published in Welsh by Conwy Valley and North Wales Coast Community Rail Partnership and in English by Severnside Community Rail Partnership, is available free of charge thanks to funding from Transport for Wales, Avanti West Coast, Great Western Railway and Transreport.

Community Rail Week, sponsored by Rail Delivery Group, runs from 20 – 26 May and this year’s theme is ‘More Than a Railway’, focusing on highlighting the lesser-known community side of the railway and promoting its benefits.

The partner organisations were joined by local school children at Bangor station on Monday to celebrate the publication, which included a reading of the Welsh version of the book by Lowri Joyce, Head of Welsh Language at TfW.

Karen Williams, Conwy Valley and North Wales Coast Community Rail Officer, said:

“Launching the Welsh book at Bangor station during Community Rail Week with colleagues from British Transport Police, TfW and Avanti demonstrates the importance of understanding safety and accessibility at stations, and the adventures that can be enjoyed on the rail network.”

Joanna Buckley, Avanti West Coast Community Manager, said:

“We’re pleased to be playing our part to educate children about accessibility and safety on the railway with this great book. By showcasing a familiar furry face on the rail network, we hope to highlight the support available before and during rail journeys in an engaging way. We’re committed to making a positive difference, so joining together with industry partners to fund this unique book means school children across the UK can learn what help is in place for people who may need extra assistance that enables them to feel safe and confident to make journeys independently.”

Both community rail partnerships have copies of the book available and digital copies in both English and Welsh can be viewed online. The books can also be previewed through LiveLEARN’s Rail Safe Friendly platform.

Carys drew inspiration from her experience as Safety Audit Manager and Accessibility volunteer at Great Western Railway, as well as the real-life Rupee and Sushi to create the story:

She said: “It’s surreal seeing the project and my vision for it come to life. The support from community rail partners, train companies, reviewers and specialist groups has been tremendous. Donna has really captured the essence of our dogs and the story in her illustrations, which complement the content. I’m hoping this book will go a long way in supporting individuals, groups and schools with additional needs in accessing the railway. I hope the public enjoy it and find both value and guidance from its contents.