Thameslink attacked by union for disabled passengers policy

PUBLISHED: 10:53 18 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:51 18 May 2018

St Albans City Station. Picture: Danny Loo.

St Albans City Station. Picture: Danny Loo.

Archant

Thameslink has rejected criticism from a trade union which attacked them over new instructions for workers.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which runs trains through St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett, has issued new instructions to their workers which say: “DO NOT attempt to place persons of reduced mobility on train if there is a possibility of delaying the service.”

The union has called for GTR to be stripped of its franchise for this policy.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “I cannot believe in this day and age we are telling staff to ignore the needs of disabled people if the time it will take to deploy a ramp and assist them onto the train will cause a delay.

“They are introducing a policy which effectively means disabled people will not be assisted onto the train and allowed to travel. This is outrageous and flies in the face of their Disabled People’s Protection Policy, which requires them to ensure assistance is available.

“If this is not bad enough, in respect of anyone having a seizure whilst on a train, the guidance says: ‘Explain 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. They now need to be stripped of the franchise to make way for an integrated, publicly-owned operation that is properly equipped to deliver these services.”

Thameslink say this is only the case if passengers turn up in too short a time for arrangements to be made for them to board the train.

A Thameslink spokesman said: “We place a high priority on making our services accessible to all and actively encourage people with restricted mobility to use our trains. We offer assistance to all passengers to help them with their journeys.

“We have a responsibility to make sure each service leaves on time to avoid knock-on delays, skipped station stops and cancellations to other services which would affect thousands of other passengers, many of whom may also be disabled.

“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.”

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