RAIL bosses have been accused of insulting disabled passengers in a drive to cut delays as they introduce new timetables.
Southern Rail parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has told staff not to help people of reduced mobility on to trains if there is a chance it might delay the service, says the Rail, Maritime and Transport union.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘They are introducing a policy which effectively means disabled people will not be assisted on to the train and allowed to travel.’
He called the move ‘outrageous’ and said it was against the Disabled People’s Protection Policy ‘which requires them to ensure assistance is available’.
Mr Cash added: ‘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,’ he said, and called for the rail company to be stripped of its franchise.
GTR, which also runs Great Northern, said it placed a ‘priority on making our services accessible to all’ and actively encouraged people with restricted mobility to use its trains.
However, it added: ‘If any passenger — with accessibility needs or not — arrives late at a station with insufficient time to board, then we can’t hold the train at the platform.
‘Part of our responsibility is to make sure each service leaves on time to avoid knock-on delays, skipped station stops and cancellations to dozens of other services which would affect thousands of other passengers, many of whom may also be disabled.’
It added: ‘In central London between London Bridge and St Pancras, we’ve done away with the need for a ramp, by installing humps on every platform to give level access, manned by a member of staff throughout the day.’
The company is introducing a new timetable from Sunday, rescheduling trains to bring in 400 extra services a day.