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24 August 2017
RMT Press Office:
RMT blasts government over disabled access "sham" at the same time as ministers are demanding the axing of train guards.
Five years after the last government ‘Action plan to improve accessibility for all’ Rail Minister Paul Maynard today launched a new consultation on yet another "plan" - at the same time as the Government are demanding that train companies axe the guards who are critical to ensuring disabled access.
The minister, known for having “complete confidence in driver-only operations”, completely fails to address the question of how having no staff at railway stations or on trains will help make travelling more accessible He further claims he is seriously “looking at areas in which disabled people are denied the opportunities for spontaneous travel”.
Without the slightest hint of irony Maynard says: “My ambition is to ensure that people with physical and hidden disabilities have the same access to transport and opportunities to travel as everyone else”.
This sham consultation fails to even address the question that the Rail Delivery Groups report from 2015 ‘On track for 2020 - the future of Accessible Rail Travel’ posed; ‘It is difficult to, in legal terms, see how a train with no staff to provide assistance running through unstaffed stations cannot come under the heading of a “provision, criterion or practice” that discriminates (Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010)’.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“It is unbelievable that Paul Maynard is asking what action Government, regulators, transport operators or providers can take to increase accessibility at the same time as they are demanding the axing of the guards who are absolutely crucial to ensuring safe and accesible rail services for all
"If train operators provide a guard on all trains, and staff at all stations , only then will we have the means to ensure disabled people are not denied their legal right to access rail services. Any approach that ignores this basic truth is a fraud and a sham."