Rail company policy on disabled passengers 'outrageous'

By agency reporter
May 21, 2018

Rail union RMT has called for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to be the next private train company to be stripped of their franchise, as the union highlighted an insult to disabled people contained in the new timetable arrangements that came in to effect on 20 May 2018. 

Regarding ‘Persons of Reduced Mobility’ (PRM) the latest instruction from GTR to their staff ahead of the new timetable states: ‘"DO NOT attempt to place PRM on train if there is a possibility of delaying the service." In a booklet called Pit Stop ‘Key principles for managing station dwell times’ GTR say "the processes will help us deliver a 21st century railway" but, says the union, not one for disabled people if the reduction in time between wheels stopping and starting is to be kept to an absolute minimum.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “I cannot believe in this day and age we are telling staff to ignore the needs of disabled people if the time it will take to deploy a ramp and assist them onto the train will cause a delay.

“In the minute before the train departs staff are instructed to blow a whistle at 20 seconds, then, at 30 seconds the driver will close the doors and at 40 seconds the driver initiates the right of way procedure.

“They are introducing a policy which effectively means disabled people will not be assisted onto the train and allowed to travel. This is outrageous and flies in the face of their Disabled Peoples Protection Policy which requires them to ensure assistance is available.

“If this is not bad enough, in respect of anyone having a seizure whilst on a train, the guidance says: Explain that your first priority is care for the individual, but not taking action will cause thousands of other passengers to be stuck…move the ill passenger from the train as quickly as possible’. This is truly shocking advice and an insult to all passengers.

“They now need to be stripped of the franchise to make way for an integrated, publicly owned operation that is properly equipped to deliver these services.”

* Rail, Maritime and Transport Union https://www.rmt.org.uk/home/

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