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Driver Only trains 'toxic' for disabled passengers

01 August 2018

Freedom of information request shows Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) issued warning over two years ago.

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DPTAC wrote a letter to Peter Wilkinson, the Department for Transport’s Managing Director of Passenger services saying:

“We question how older and disabled people, and particularly those who suffer from acute anxiety and mental health issues, can travel when there are effectively no customer service staff on the train or on the station. On this point we know that the toxic combination of driver-only operated trains and unstaffed stations fails to deliver a service that meets the needs of many disabled passengers. As a result, DPTAC is seeking a guarantee that such policies cannot undermine the fundamental principle of accessibility – which would in any event be illegal.”

Rail Sector Champion Stephen Brookes, who attended the launch of the Department for Transport Inclusive Transport strategy noted the clear point in the document saying, 'in addition to staffing levels on the railway, we also recognise the importance of accessible facilities on board trains.'

He also noted that the strategy says 'the newest trains on our network free up staff to allow them more time to help passengers' so this does mean a real clarity is now required to ensure on board staff are recognised as a key part of rail travel.

He said:

“I am discussing with various operators the impact and their positions on this and will be working with the Department for Transport and the Rail Delivery Group to get the facts right.”