33 stations operated by Southern Rail have withdrawn Turn Up and Go assistance following a controversial change to staffing arrangements. Despite repeated strikes from members of the RMT union and media outrage, trains can now run with just one member of staff on board. This member of staff would not be expected to provide assistance to disabled people, meaning that the passenger would need to book assistance 24 hours beforehand or risk serious delays or being unable to travel at all. Advance booking may not guarantee travel either under the new staffing system.
The air was filled with singing and a saxophone as dozens of peaceful protesters gathered on Westminster Bridge to send a clear message to Southern Rail and Government that taking away reliable rail travel will have a serious and unacceptable disruptive effect on the day to day lives of a large number of disabled people.
Hannah Barham Brown, told Transport for All, “As a full time doctor my patients need me to be at work on time; I can’t be late simply because I’m waiting for someone to help me onto the train.
“The nature of my work makes it impossible for me to know when I’ll finish my day and travel home so booking 24 hours in advance isn’t an option for me; I’m not asking for perfection, I’m just asking for the very basic access that I need to go about my everyday life.
“It’s impossible for me to book 24 hours in advance for my travel, and I cannot be 2 hours late for work at a busy hospital while I wait to board a train.”
Eleanor Lisney, Co-Founder of Sisters of Frida, said “I was really impressed by the number of people who turned up to the protests. They, a diverse group with different impairments, are obviously passionate about the rights of disabled travellers. I like the fact we had musicians there to help us sing along to prepared lyric sheets. Well done Transport for All!”