Just when those of us living with disabilities think rail accessibility can’t get any worse, along come Govia Thameslink Railway. Instructing staff not to help passengers with disabilities board trains beggars belief. As a frequent rail traveller of 72 years who had Polio and now lives with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) I, and members of The British Polio Fellowship are well aware of the dire network shortcomings when it comes to accessibility; but even my station master grandfather will be turning in his grave at this appalling news.
Many of us have long suspected companies only pay lip service to our needs. To confirm it so publicly is a slap in the face. The Department for Transport (DfT) claims it is ‘determined that disabled people have the same access to public transport as non-disabled people’, but how can that be, with staff instructed to leave us high and dry on the platform?
A lack of step-free access, gaps between train and platform and now we are to be left behind if helping us makes the train late – it’s a wonder any of us travel at all. The DfT should remind operators of their responsibilities (and the law) or face being stripped of their franchises. Anyone who needs The British Polio Fellowship’s help can visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call 0800 043 1935.
National Chairman, The British Polio Fellowship