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TransPennine Express to run rail services with no wheelchair spaces

31 May 2018

As part of its franchise agreement with the Department for Transport, TransPennine Express (TPE) will introduce two extra trains which will be inaccessible to wheelchair-users from July 2018.

Read full article at Shaping Our Lives

See also TransPennine Express climbs down over inaccessible trains

Twelve of these services, without wheelchair provision, will run every weekday between Liverpool and Scarborough via Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds and York, using old “Mark Three” coaches which TPE says have “no space on the train for wheelchairs”.

Any wheelchair-user wanting to use a service with no access, will be told to catch the next accessible train instead. If two consecutive trains are inaccessible, TPE will pay for a taxi to their destination.

The use of these inaccessible carriages is part of TPE’s franchise agreement with the Department for Transport (DfT) to provide additional capacity on the network ahead of the introduction of new trains.

Disability Rights UK condemns TransPennine Express and the Department for Transport for agreeing to run an inaccessible service, particularly as TPE promises in its own guidelines, Making Rail Accessible: Help for Older and Disabled Passengers:

“Reservations for seats and for dedicated wheelchair spaces are available on all our routes. These can be made when purchasing tickets or requesting assistance.”

Clearly this will now need amending. Hopefully this decision will also be challenged under the Equality Act.

This is one of many instances where we find disabled people treated as second class citizens on public transport. Last week we highlighted how  Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) instructed staff not to attempt to place people of reduced mobility (known as PRMs) on a train if there is a possibility of delaying the service. We have also been waiting for over six years for the issue of wheelchair access on buses to be resolved.

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." 

Philip Connolly, the policy director of Disability Rights UK, said in the Guardian:

“It’s an unacceptably shoddy offer. Disabled people should have the same access to transport as anyone else. You expect things to get better, not worse. We would hope that a disabled person would take TPE to court and challenge this move, however temporary it may be. Temporary measures should still meet the needs of disabled people.”

Wheelchair users are already very poorly served by trains in northern England and unable to easily board any of the dozens of the Pacer trains in operation across the region. Pacers, which are were converted from bus chassis, are due to be replaced with 98 new trains at the end of the year.