The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) has said that the latest instructions from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) inform staff that they should not attempt to help people of reduced mobility (PRMs) onto a train if there is a possibility that it will delay the service.

The GTR’s dispatch manual states that when assisting a PRM, staff “[should] NOT attempt to place PRM on [the] train if there is a possibility of delaying the service.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “I cannot believe, in this day and age, we are telling staff to ignore the needs of disabled people if the time it will take to deploy a ramp and assist them on to the train will cause a delay.”

A spokesman for GTR said: “We place a priority on making our services accessible to all and actively encourage people with restricted mobility to use our trains. If any passenger – with accessibility needs or not – arrives late at a station with insufficient time to board, then we can’t hold the train at the platform.”

The document also shows that disabled passengers will not be boarded onto the train unless their destination station can be contacted first to confirm that their destination can in fact assist the passenger in alighting the train. The Association of British Commuters stated in a tweet that they had asked Southern Rail, of whom GTR is a parent company if this was policy two months ago, and the company had denied this.

Sue Bott, Deputy CEO of Disability Rights UK, said, “Oh dear we disabled people really are an inconvenience turning up to stations and expecting to get on a train. How unreasonable of us is that? Well not actually.

“We have the same rights as any other passenger to be able to travel on trains and be treated with dignity.”

Alan Benson, Chair of Transport for All echoed these sentiments, saying: “This is very shocking and a total disrespect for Disabled people. Govia Thameslink Railway are clearly NOT taking accessibility seriously.

“Railway companies (which all make handsome profits) have to stop treating disabled people as second-class citizens. We need more staff and policies ensuring our rights to Turn-Up-And-Go like everyone else.”

Image: Flickr/Joshua Brown©

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