Blind and partially sighted people set to benefit from free app at 8 more GTR stations

To make the region’s rail network more accessible for blind and partially sighted passengers, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is working with Sight Loss Councils to extend the free use of an innovative guiding app to eight more stations.

The app – named Aira – enables blind and partially sighted customers to place a video call with a trained advisor who looks through the customer's smartphone camera to guide them around the station on speakerphone.


With the support of national sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust and Sight Loss Council volunteers, GTR first launched and trialled Aira in June 2023 at these four stations:

  • Brighton
  • East Croydon
  • Blackfriars
  • Stevenage

Following positive feedback, free use of the app has now been extended to a further eight Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink stations:

  • Finsbury Park
  • Brent Cross West
  • Luton Airport Parkway
  • Bedford
  • Sutton
  • Haywards Heath
  • Eastbourne
  • Chichester


GTR’s Accessibility Lead, Carl Martin, said: “We want everyone to be able to use our services, regardless of their disability or need for assistance.

“We’re always on the lookout for innovative ways to improve, and extending this app to more stations could make a real difference to blind and partially sighted people.

“All our staff are trained to assist our customers, whatever their needs. We hope this app can improve the support we already offer blind and partially sighted customers to put them in control of their journeys.


“We’re grateful to Thomas Pocklington Trust and Sight Loss Councils for helping us spread the word to as many people as possible and helping us get feedback on this latest initiative.”


David Smith, Sight Loss Council Engagement Manager for Thomas Pocklington Trust, said: “It is essential that everyone can travel independently and safely, and live the lives they want to lead. Sight Loss Councils are pleased to be working with Govia to expand this app, alongside a wider package of support designed to make transport accessible for blind and partially sighted people.


“As a blind person myself, one of the challenges with stations is they’re often large open spaces. This means that navigating to the ticket office or gateline to find a member of staff can be difficult.


“Having the support from an Aira agent means that I can confidently and independently navigate the station to locate passenger assistance and get to where I need to be. I can even drop by the coffee shop before heading to the platform!”


Sight Loss Council Volunteer Paul Goddard at Chichester said after using the app for the first time: "That was excellent. It wasn't just a case of getting me from A to B, it was all the steps in between. It was literally as though I had a friend on my shoulder - really, really good."


Blind passenger Pierre Shlimon at Sutton said: "It was quite like being with a relative, having someone holding my arm. Everything was very well explained as he guided me along." Read Pierre's case study here and download pictures below.


Blind and partially sighted passengers are urged to download the app Aira Explorer from the Apple Store or Google Play on their mobile device. See editors’ notes for more details.


To help GTR understand how useful Aira is, it is asking its visually impaired customers to rate the experience of using the app with this Customer Feedback Survey which can be found on the assisted travel section of Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern’s websites.


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