A petition has been launched on Change.org to demand the end of driver only operated trains which may discriminate against disabled passengers.
The removal of guards and conductors from trains in some areas has angered disabled people, many of whom are finding that assistance to board and disembark from the train frequently fails to appear, even when assistance is booked 24 hours in advance.
This can leave people stranded on a train at the end of the line or mean that people will miss their stop and travel unwillingly to an alternative destination often meaning that they will be late for the purpose of their journey.
Janine Booth, co-Chair, TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee told us: “To have equality of access to public transport, disabled people need a well-staffed railway, with guards on trains. TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee and Disabled People Against Cuts are uniting railway passengers and workers to campaign to keep guards.”
There have been suggestions that this policy may be unlawful. Ann Bates, a transport access consultant is reported by Disability News Service to have commented last September that Southern Rail had so far failed to suggest a solution that would provide a “reasonable adjustment” for disabled passengers.
This petition and the experiences of disabled people which sparked it indicates that little appears to have been done to improve situation.
Eleanor Lisney a regular train user reports: “I’m often left stranded on trains because there were no guards and I get whisked away to the next destination because I can’t get off, even when I book assistance. We were going to Maidenhead and we asked for assistance at Marylebone but they didn’t tell Maidenhead so we shot off to the next station. Only reason we got off then is because i stuck my foot pedal out thus stopping the door from closing – this could have caused an injury or damaged my chair. On Sunday I went to East Croydon. On the way there, there was a guard and I got off fine but not on the way back. Fellow passengers had to go find rail staff for me to get off.”
Sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/department-for-transport-disabled-people-demand-guards-on-trains
By Fleur Perry