Letdown on rail accessibility for disabled people shows the Tories’ are still siding with big business

David Cameron (remember him?) vowed to remove Northern Rail’s infamous Pacer trains – bus frames mounted on train wheels as a “stopgap” measure more than 30 years ago – way back in 2014. A total of 180 Pacers will now remain in use, because the current Tory government has been too weak to stand up to big business.

The Conservatives’ recent election manifesto stated that the UK didn’t need to renationalise the rail network; it just needed to make it accountable. What a shame that won’t happen.

It is the second failed promise within days of the Conservatives being returned to office after the election. So far, they have not delivered on any of their commitments.

The rail letdown concerns accessibility for disabled people.

Private rail firms were given 10 years to make all trains accessible for people with disabilities – 10 years ago. They are not going to meet the January 1, 2020 deadline.

But instead of holding the privateers to account for their failure, the Tories have ripped up the deadline and granted no fewer than 10 companies permission to breach the new accessibility standards.

Remember that rail fares have skyrocketed since privatisation, with most of the money going to subsidise the large – nationalised – rail industries of other European countries that own our private railways.

According to The Independent:

The new plan is for the carriages to be replaced between April and next December – a full year’s delay – although it is unclear how achievable those new deadlines will be.

The minister’s letter says: “Despite such a significant period of time for the rail industry to prepare, I understand that were all non-compliant trains removed from service there would be a disproportionately negative effect on the provision of services for passengers.

“Thus I have reluctantly agreed to issue strictly time-limited dispensation notices to a number of operators for around 1,200 carriages in the national fleet.”

Truth is, the rail firms can always say there would be a “disproportionately negative effect” on passenger services if the non-compliant trains were taken out of service – and never replace them.

And what will the Tories do about it? Roll over and extend the deadline again.

It is as Labour’s transport spokesman Andy McDonald said: “You cannot believe a word they say.”

Source: Deadline to make trains accessible for disabled ripped up in Boris Johnson’s first ‘broken promise’ since election win | The Independent

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