Southern Rail announces it plans to break accessibility law for people with disabilities

A Southern train [Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images].

It’s nice of them to let us know in advance!

The announcement that assistance for people with disabilities on Southern trains may not be available at all stations means the firm is in breach of the Equality Act 2010, part 12, chapter 3, which states:

The Secretary of State may make regulations … for securing that it is possible for disabled persons— (a)to get on to and off regulated rail vehicles in safety and without unreasonable difficulty; (b)to do so while in wheelchairs; (c)to travel in such vehicles in safety and reasonable comfort; (d)to do so while in wheelchairs.

Will we see a prosecution or is it now permissible to openly discriminate against people with disabilities again?

Southern rail users with disabilities face delayed journeys or the prospect of no longer being able to board some trains after the company said there was no “cast-iron guarantee” that assistance would be available at all stations.

Southern has admitted it may have to book taxis for disabled travellers who cannot complete their journey because the only member of staff on the train is the driver.

Previously there were 33 stations across the Southern rail network where passengers in need of assistance to get on or off the train could turn up and be guaranteed help.

Source: No guarantee of help for disabled passengers, says Southern | Business | The Guardian

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  1. Martin Odoni January 18, 2017 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    I have to say, this is already happening on Northern Rail. I was on a train between Manchester and Liverpool before Christmas, and a guy in a wheelchair had trouble getting on board because there was no ramp on the train. The guard had to race around the station looking for a ramp to help him on board, then when he needed to alight, he had to go racing off looking for another one. Even if it weren’t illegal – which it almost certainly is – it’s still appallingly shoddy standards.

  2. Sven Wraight January 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Several thoughts occur:
    1- A news item the other day was of a disabled person who had a mishap because toilets were unavailable, so I wonder how many are already ostracised in breach of the law;
    2- “The Secretary of State may make regulations…” The word “may” is worrying (more than usual!) because it isn’t “must”. It seems optional, and so the tories wouldn’t even be breaking the law (though they’d still be behaving despicably);
    3- If taxis must be booked for disabled travellers, has this already been going on, have enough potential travellers been actively made aware of it, and how inefficient is a travel system that must use other means of travel?

  3. NMac January 18, 2017 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    I suspect that once out of the EU the nasty Tories will be repealing any legislation which is designed to help disabled people. They will call it “getting rid of red tape.”

  4. Barry Davies January 18, 2017 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    There is of course a precedent for not having wheelchair access at every station because the underground does not, and it isn’t only Southern, which has a number of unmanned stations anyway that does not have access for all. Not every station could easily be converted for this provision, I was recently on crutches and could not get over the foot bridge to go through the actual station across the rails, fortunately as manned station the staff assisted me to get off the platform and to the waiting taxi via unusual means.

    • Mike Sivier January 19, 2017 at 12:23 pm - Reply

      I’m not a regular visit to London but I’m sure I have seen wheelchair access to Tube stations – lifts and ramps. Yes, assistance might be needed to actually get on and off trains, and this would be a huge sticking-point if staff were reduced.
      Can any regular Tube user help out? I may be mistaken.

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