It has recently come to my attention that three of the UK’s twenty seven train operators – Govia Thameslink Railway, Northern Rail and Grand Central have an outright ban on mobility scooters – a situation which leaves some passengers entirely unable to travel. Those who are reliant on mobility scooters are incredibly vulnerable when travelling on trains.
The ban has been blamed on the size and age of trains. Govia Thameslink say that train doorways are too narrow and that there is insufficient space inside the trains to turn. They thus require passengers to fold up their mobility scooters – something which simply isn’t possible for many members of The British Polio Fellowship, who are reliant on mobility scooters to have the freedom to travel like everyone else.
It’s shocking in this day and age that better provision has not been made to accommodate disabled passengers. Whilst welcoming news that Govia Thameslink have pledged to replace their stock with more accessible trains, Northern Rail are reluctant to make similar moves. It is completely unacceptable that any company providing an essential public service should be so unwilling to accommodate disabled passengers.
With operating profits of over £17m, it is surely not unreasonable to expect the changes necessary that would benefit many of our members. We urge train companies to improve access for all passengers as a priority and a matter of urgency.
Assisting those living with challenging medical conditions such as PPS, and giving thousands of men and women the independence to travel alone is hugely important. How it isn’t a priority to these train companies is beyond me.