04 July

Disabled Persons Railcard Modelling


The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) commissioned PJM Economics, in partnership with Accent, to conduct research to understand how well the Disabled Persons Railcard (DPRC) was currently performing and to identify opportunities to improve it to the benefit of both users and the rail industry.

With respect to future opportunities, there were two core objectives to the research. The first was focusing on the impact that potential changes to the DPRC eligibility criteria would have on perceptions and uptake. The second was focusing on the impact that potential changes to DPRC features, including its discount rates and price, would have on numbers of journeys and revenue.


The research method comprised a large scale quantitative survey with current and lapsed DPRC holders, and eligible non-holders.  The majority completed the survey online, but some completed by telephone in order to be improve inclusivity.

The quantitative survey contained three stated preference exercises:

  • The first focused on preferences between different DPRC configurations
  • The second assessed the likelihood of purchasing a DPRC given different configurations, with a choice of whether or not to purchase DPRC at ‘best’ and ‘worst’ configurations.
  • The third explored the impact of having differently configured DPRCs on travel behaviour.

Responses from these exercises were used as inputs to a simulator tool developed by PJM for the study which predicted how changes to the DPRC would impact sales, journeys made, and revenue.

In addition, a small scale qualitative research survey with 25 eligible non-holders and currently ineligible non-holders was undertaken to explore eligibility criteria, travel with carers and children.

To address the issues from additional discussions following the main research, a series of questions were included within an Omnibus survey conducted by Opinium. The questionnaire was designed to obtain evidence on the proportion of disabled people that would, and would not, be eligible under proposed new criteria, and how often disabled people travelled by rail (pre-Covid).


Findings on Disabled Persons Railcards (DPRC) revealed several noteworthy results. The study delved into the generative and abstractive aspects of DPRC trips, revealing the proportions of these journeys that would, and would not, have taken place without the DPRC, highlighting its role in stimulating rail travel. The overall revenue impact was also derived.

The study identified current levels of awareness and likelihood of purchase, plus the key barriers to purchase. 

With regard to future evolution of the card, findings were obtained on attitudes towards changes to eligibility criteria, predictions of the impact of higher and lower discount levels, and changes to the allowance for companions' travel.