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We demand Rail Access NOW

Added: 21 March 2017 | Updated: 27 March 2017

Today Transport for All are launching our Rail Access Now campaign with support from Paralympian Anne Wafula Strike. Demanding that the Government and rail companies take action to uphold Disabled and older people’s right to travel with freedom and independence.

It is a cause for national shame that in 2017 only 1/5 (1) rail stations have step free access. Transport for All’s helpline receives calls daily describing the unacceptable treatment faced by so many Disabled and older travellers.

Forced to crawl onto the train

This daily struggle is highlighted by the disgraceful treatment of Dave McQuirk who was forced to crawl onto the train after his assistance failed to turn up.

As with all Disabled passengers, Dave is told to book assistance 24 hours in advance in order to guarantee he will be able to travel. Despite this, and frequent complaints to the operator he finds that assistance fails to turn up on nearly half of his journeys forcing him to choose between being trapped on the platform or dragging himself onto the train in order to make it to work on time.

Dave McQuirk says “I’m an articulate, confident regular traveller and I still have this incredibly stressful ‘will I, won’t I’ worry every morning.“

“Everyone knows commuting is tedious and subject to disruption – I can put up with that. What I find infuriating is the difficulty, delay and uncertainty that I face just because I’m a wheelchair user trying to use the railway network like anyone else. That’s why Transport for All’s Rail Access Now campaign is so important. It’s time we held the Government and train operators to account for their record on accessibility.“

Paralympian Anne Wafula Strike MBE is supporting the campaign. Rail accessibility recently hit the headlines with she revealed (3) that she was forced to wet herself on a long train journey after the only accessible toilet on board was not working.

Anne Wafula Strike says “I was robbed of my dignity on one of my train journeys. It made me feel like I should just stay in behind closed doors. Having access to a toilet is such a basic right and I know I am just one of so many other Disabled people who has suffered from this-that’s why I chose to speak out.“
“I may have an impairment but the barriers society puts in my path are the only things that hold me back.“

It’s absolutely disgraceful that it has been allowed to come to this.

That’s why our Disabled and older people are calling on the Government and train operating companies to:
  • Reverse the shameful decision to defer 50% of Access for All step free funding
  • Let Disabled and older people Turn-Up-and-Go like everyone else
  • Ensure working audio-visual announcements are on every train and platform
  • Allow mobility scooters on every train
  • Stop staff cuts and give assistance at every train and station
  • Guarantee fully accessible trains with working accessible facilities
  • Uphold a clear standard for accessibility in the franchising process

Help us take action for Rail Access

We need your voice to help spread the word about rail accessibility:
  • Tell us your story: We want to hear about your experiences accessing the railways. Please send them to catherine@transportforall.org.uk
  • Save the date: On Wednesday the 5th of April we will be taking the fight to the rail operating companies, demanding that Southern rail reverse their decision to withdraw Turn-Up-and-Go services from 33 of the stations on their network. Please let catherine@transportforall.org.uk know if you would like to join and we will send you more details about the action
  • Spread the word: pass this email on to your friends, family, colleagues, and share ou campaign on Facebook and Twitter
  • Use the hasthag #RailAccessNow on Twitter
  • Become a member of Transport for All
  • Make a donation

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(1) Claire Perry MP, Under Secretary of State responsible for the railways including accessibility between July 2014 and July 2016 said on the 21st January 2016: “We understand that around 460 stations in the UK have step free access to and between all platforms“. (Source: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-01-14/22546/).