Government policies on rail travel to seriously disadvantage Disabled people

Fri,12 May 2023
News UK Transport

Disability Rights UK wrote to Mark Harper, Secretary of State for Transport, raising our deep concerns about the major impact on Disabled rail passengers of 45% of stations being unstaffed; lack of assistance due to inadequate numbers of support staff; driver operated trains; and proposed ticket office closures. We highlighted statistics from the Office of Road and Rail, which show the serious levels of failure of booked passenger assistance, and challenges faced by many disabled people due to the over reliance on smart technology.  

In the reply we received from Mark Harper, none of our concerns were answered to our satisfaction.

The reply provides a view of driver only operation, which is based on the London and South East approach and does not take rural services or  unstaffed stations into account. It also deals with staff reassignment by saying the DfT consulted with the Disabled People’s Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC). In fact DPTAC stated in their report that the plans were a toxic mixture and discriminatory. 

Many DPO’s have made representations to the Minister that ticket office (information centres) closures would have a profound and disproportionate negative impact on disabled people. 

In a response received in early 2022 the then Minister of State for Transport Wendy Morton said that no ticket office closures would happen without due local consultation and a disability equality impact assessment. However, Mr Harper’s response doesn’t make the same commitment and instead, measures that would seriously disadvantage Disabled travellers are fully backed.

We will use every opportunity to highlight the discrimination against Disabled travellers that the Government’s “modernisation” of rail will entail.

The response from Mark Harper, Secretary of State for Transport, to our concerns about the inaccessibility of rail travel for Disabled passengers