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Puppy Walkers get a ticket to ride!

Guide Dogs' volunteers Pat Smith (with puppy Atkins) and Sheila Pope (with Radcliffe) board a Heathrow Connect service en-route to Paddington to launch the National Rail Network free rail travel scheme for Guide Dogs' Puppy Walkers

Guide Dogs are delighted to announce that it has teamed up with The Association of Train Operating Companies, (ATOC) to provide puppy walkers with free access to the National Rail Network, a terrific initiative which will include access to trains for short journeys and stations, including both platforms and concourse.

The agreement - launched at Paddington station on Thursday, 31 May - allows the trainee Guide Dogs' puppies to experience getting onto and off trains, travelling between stations and negotiating ticket barriers, all skills that will be valuable to their future blind or partially sighted owners.

The partnership between ATOC and Guide Dogs demonstrates Train Operators' commitment to ensuring that disabled people have the maximum opportunity to travel across the rail network and builds upon services that rail companies already offer. These include discounted travel and other offers through the Disabled Persons Railcard and providing regular passenger assistance through our Assisted Passenger Reservation Service, (APRS).

Simon Blythe, Guide Dogs' Puppy Walking Manager said: "Visually impaired people rely heavily on public transport and ATOC's support is a huge step in ensuring both guide dogs and owners are comfortable and confident using the rail network."

David Sindall, Head of Disability and Inclusion for ATOC adds: "We are pleased to be able to support Guide Dogs who continue to provide independence and assistance to blind and partially sighted people so that they can maximise the opportunities open to them. With an increasing number of disabled people using the National Rail Network we are aiming to make it even more user friendly. Guide dogs enable many blind and partially sighted people to make rail journeys independently."