25 May 2018
RMT Press Office:
RMT slams GTR's latest attack on disabled access – get hold of a man in a van via a call centre in India
Rail union RMT today slammed GTR’s latest attack on disabled access to their services – just a week after the union blew the whistle on instructions to staff to leave passengers stranded rather than taking time to provide assistance.
The latest insult to the disabled traveller comes with the decision from Sunday (20th May) to get rid of all staff on Thameslink services recently transferred to them from Southern, an outcome that was always predicted by RMT.
Their latest answer to the question posed in The Rail Delivery Group’s report “On Track for 2020? The Future of Accessible Travel” over how disabled people should obtain assisted travel to or from an unstaffed station on unstaffed trains is simple – “Call a man in a van via India”.
Mobile assistance teams will be based on three lines in the south and Kent. If a passenger needs help boarding at Littlehaven on the Horsham via Three Bridges route they press the help point at the station and it gets answered at a call centre in India which takes down the information and then contacts the Operations Centre assistance controller, who then eventually calls up the mobile person to attend the station and provide help.
GTR’s requirement is the passenger must arrive at least twenty minutes before they want to board the train. If travelling to these stations they can only get off if staff at the departing station confirm beforehand that they can organise a “man in a van” to be there when they arrive. Otherwise they will have to carry on regardless, or pull the emergency alarm putting those needing assistance in an impossible position.
This trial is going on now for all disabled passengers travelling to and from the following stations Earlswood, Salfords, Ifield, Faygate, Littlehaven on the Horsham via Three Bridges route and Riddlesdown, Upper Warlingham, Woldingham, Lingfield and Dormans on the East Grinstead route.
Mick Cash RMT General Secretary said:
“The intention of GTR’s latest scheme is clear to me. It is to drive disabled people from our railway as they are an inconvenience. What is wrong with a simple obvious solution of having a guaranteed guard on every train? That is the way you ensure disabled access and is the agreement that we have in Wales and Scotland.
“The guard is there for everyone. All passengers benefit whether they are young, old, frail, vulnerable or disabled people. It isn’t revolutionary, it is just common sense.
“This latest crazy scheme is doomed to failure and is a sticking plaster solution to a massive problem GTR have bought on themselves in the drive for profit. It treats passengers requiring assistance with total contempt and marks them down as second class citizens in contravention of disability discrimination law.
“We don't need phones ringing in call centres and complicated and doomed plans to raise a man in a van that puts all the emphasis on the passengers and which will still leave them stranded. We need a guard on our trains."