Southern Rail’s plan to operate their services without the guarantee of a second member of staff on board has been exposed as having a fatal flaw.
When the train company drew up their plans they inexplicably forgot to take into account the effect their changes would have on the ability of the disabled to be able to access their services.
If they go ahead with their plan to remove the guarantee of a second member of staff on every service within the present non DOO (Driver Operation Only) area, disabled customers will have to give 24 hours notice to Southern Assisted Travel of their intention to use the train service or risk a significant delay to their journey.
Southern are now aware of this flaw in their plan but are still intent in going ahead with its implementation.
In an email sent out by Alex Foulds, Southern Passenger Service Director, the company are now appearing to claim that they are not going to clear the network for DOO yet still state their intentions to run trains without a guaranteed second member of staff on board. It would appear to be clear to everyone accept those at GTR that to run trains DOO they must first clear the routes with Network Rail for Driver Only Operation.
Alex Foulds also claims that the company see no requirement to redraw their station accessibility map. (the station accessibility map map informs customers who require assistance to board rail services if there is a guarantee of assistance either at the stations or on the train. If neither criteria is met then the advice is to book 24 hours in advance or risk a significant delay to their journey).
With the guarantee of the second on board person removed then there will be no certainty of assistance at the vast majority of stations in Southern’s present non DOO area.
Afraid of the negative publicity that would ensue from redrawing the Accessibility Map and highlighting that their modernisation plan would be in breach of the 2010 Equality Act Southern have instead decided, according to Alex Foulds, to leave the map unchanged!
The effect of the company failing to redraw the station accessibility map, to avoid negative publicity, will be that disabled customers will be left unaware that there is the real possibility that there will be no one at a station to help them board the train.
Southern or GTR or whatever company is responsible for this flawed plan, have the right to modernise the rail network but not at the expense of their disabled customers.
It is essential that the rights of disabled customers to have the same access to train services as everyone else is defended.
Lets ensure that this flawed modernisation plan is consigned to the bin.
Please help to give this issue maximum publicity and ensure that the rights of the disabled are at the forefront of any modernisation plan that Southern want to implement.