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May Rail Timetable Chaos blamed on system wide failure

04 December 2018

Impact on disabled rail passengers significant.

The Parliamentary Transport Select Committee says in its December report that swift reform is needed to restore passenger trust in railways and this must include effective contingency plans and stringent enforcement for disabled passengers.

DRUK Ambassador and Rail Sector Champion Stephen Brookes, who gave evidence to the committee was in total agreement with their report and endorsed the fact that the current industry decision making process is not fit for purpose. He said ‘For a Minister to write to me saying that [the industry has collectively failed the passengers it serves] demonstrates that no one from the Minister downwards took any responsibility for what turned into a total collapse of the railways’.

In his evidence to the committee he said:

‘The impact on disabled people of the changes and the short-term notification was absolutely and utterly disastrous. Those are the passengers who I think will be very loth to return to use an industry that is still in change. We see operators running revised timetables from the May one, which is still not delivering the service we should be getting after years of upgrades and engineering. I have no faith that any changes will be for the better for disabled people for a very long time, because a timetable has been imposed which is patchy and has not been up to speed on delivering a totally accessible service.’

He continues by saying:

‘The culture of blame between companies and Network rail rather than seeking resolution is unforgiveable, and for those who use travel assistance the failure of train services to turn up meant that people who had booked journey assistance were left with no option but to not travel.'

The Committee have recommended that independent oversight of timetabling needs to be implemented, but Stephen says it should go further and that a working group including disabled people should be part of any future consultation. He says disabled people should be listened to and the rail industry should know that our £240bn annual spending power puts us in a place which the train operators need to understand. They should actively include us, but to do this ‘we need people in all rail companies and stakeholders to get out of their little holes and start talking to each other and work constructively with all passengers, for if you get it right for disabled people you get it right for everyone’.