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Disabled People Left on the Slow Line

02 January 2020

How long will it be before disabled people can travel on any train?

It's not going to happen anytime soon even though the rail industry has had ten years and arguably 25 years since the original Disability Discrimination Act was passed, to prepare for fully accessible trains.

Yesterday the department for Transport officially published information showing that almost all train operating companies have applied and been granted train accessibility exemption. Even Eurostar, who only started operating in 1994 and therefore could reasonably be expected to have fully accessible rolling stock, have applied to the Department for Transport for more time. You can see the full list here https://www.gov.uk/transport/rail-accessibility

Stephen Brookes, DR UK Ambassador and National Rail Sector Champion, says:

'Many of my contacts, some from within the rail sector, have stated their shock and dismay at the number of companies and operators seeking access compliance dispensations from the January 1st 2020 deadline on accessible rail vehicles.

The scale of the failures demonstrates that it is essential rail companies and stakeholders work face to face with disabled people, and the few train operators who have set up pan disability user groups and training sessions are seeing the benefit of such relationships.

The industry has had many years to prepare for the requirement, which was particularly legislated in the Rail Vehicle Accessibility regulations 2010 which set out the standards to which rail vehicles must comply.

I and other disabled people including Disability Rights Uk will be watching the actions of companies to rectify the situation, as we have been saying that we feared that companies were making noises but with not enough action to ensure this legislation was fulfilled.

In 2020 it is my aim to see that this message is not just seen, but is acted upon, as the existing culture of industry blame will not be accepted as a prolonging excuse as we need a fully accessible rail service fit for purpose and further delays will not be tolerated."