The planned mass closure of train ticket offices across the UK will shut millions of disabled people out of the rail network. Today, we are proud to have co-signed the RMT’s letter to MPs, letting them know what the stakes are for their disabled constituents, and urging them to act now.
Accessibility and transport policies
We are writing to you regarding the impact of ongoing transport policies on the accessibility of the
rail network for disabled and older people.
As you may be aware, it has been extensively reported that the Government and train companies
are seeking a widespread closure of ticket offices across the rail network, with around 1000 at risk.
The Secretary of State recently confirmed that she has asked the rail industry to launch consultations
on ticket office provision.
Furthermore, the Government has also stated publicly that it wishes to recommence the roll out of
Driver Only Operation (DOO). We believe that these policies would inevitably lead to an extensive
de-staffing of the rail network and that there would be a significant impact on the accessibility of the
railway for your constituents, particularly deaf, disabled and older people.
We understand that the following ticket office/s are in your constituency and at risk of closure:
Disabled people already face numerous barriers in accessing the railway, and subsequently are three
times less likely to travel by rail than non-disabled people.
Staff play a vital role in ensuring the rail network is accessible and many disabled and older people rely on the presence of staff to be able to travel.
Staff provide assistance to passengers at the station at on to the train. At many stations facilities
such as toilets, lifts and waiting rooms are dependent on the presence of staff. A report by the Steer
Group in 2019 found that 57% of assistance provided by station staff, came from ticket office staff.
The ticket offices provide a central point of contact for passengers. Moving staff to multifunctional
or ‘mobile’ roles means many disabled and older people will be unable to locate staff at the station.
The alternatives to ticket offices, such as online ticketing and Ticket Vending Machines are not
accessible for many disabled and older people, who are also less likely to have access to the internet.
23% of disabled adults had no access to the internet in 2019 compared to just 6% of non-disabled
The impact of ticket office closures can be particularly acute for blind and partially sighted
people for whom technology is not always accessible and face-to-face support can be vital in
enabling rail travel.
In 2019, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission wrote to the Chair of the Transport Select
Committee and warned that the combination of DOO and unstaffed stations could ‘represent a
diminution of protection for disabled people’ and ‘potentially be a breach of the Equality Act’. The
Government’s Disabled Persons’ Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) has repeatedly raised
concerns about the ‘toxic combination’ of DOO and unstaffed stations.
We believe that there is a very real risk that the current policies being pursued by the Government
and rail companies could ultimately mean that many disabled people are excluded from using the
railway altogether. We believe that this would be a breach of equalities legislation.
In light of the reasons raised in this letter, we are calling on you to oppose policies that will worsen
the accessibility of the railway for disabled and older people. We would be grateful if you could
respond to this letter, by emailing email@example.com to confirm if you support your ticket office/s
remaining open and are opposed to any further extension of Driver Only Operation.
We would also be grateful if you could take up these concerns with the Government.
Stephen Brookes MBE, Rail Policy Adviser, Disability Rights UK
Mick Lynch, General Secretary, RMT
Teri Devine, Associate Director for Inclusion, RNID
The Equality Trust
Thomas Pocklington Trust
Katie Pennick, Campaigns and Communications Manager, Transport for All