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Renewed calls for turn-up-and-go assistance at more stations

Transport for All

For over a month now, train operators have been ‘trialling’ turn-up-and-go assistance at 36 of the busier London stations...

For over a month now, train operators have been ‘trialling’ turn-up-and-go assistance at 36 of the busier London stations. At present, disabled passengers are advised to book assistance 24 hours in advance. This expectation deters many from travelling, and is a huge barrier to disabled and older people being able to participate normally in London life – to stay out at a party; to go out for drinks; to attend an overrunning work meeting. In short, everything that non-disabled people take for granted.
Turn-Up-And-Go assistance map

A musical action for access

Transport for All members held an action at King’s Cross St Pancras station, calling for the rollout of Turn-Up-And-Go. With visually-impaired musicians Kevin Satizabel and Jessica Beal leading on the piano and saxophone, we sang Turn-Up-And-Go to the tune of Village People classic YMCA. “We don’t want to book / 24 hours before / Come on train companies, you can do more!”

Commuters were bemused, then delighted, by the noisy demonstration on the station concourse. TfA members from across London attended, belting out in unison: “Want to travel with ease, want to feel I am free, Use the trains with EQUALITYYYY…”

Anahita, who was at the demonstration, said:

“I want turn up and go because I can’t always plan my life in advance, and I don’t want to be treated with rudeness when I decide to make trips on the day. Situations such as seeing a friend or relative who might be seriously ill, for example, shouldn’t have to be explained in order to be spoken to in a polite manner by train staff. I came to the demonstration because all to often I am rudely told at train stations that I should’ve phoned ahead when I ask for assistance, even if I turn up an hour before my train just so staff are fully prepared- which I usually do, especially at Euston. I have the right to travel when I want to, and make last minute decisions or changes to plans when I need to. I shouldn’t be reprimanded by strangers in uniforms for wanting to travel when I feel like it.

“Turn Up and Go” would make a difference to travel by improving relations between staff and passengers who need assistance. I would definitely travel a lot more than I do now, and wouldn’t have to prepare myself for yet another confrontation with staff who are paid to provide assistance. It takes courage to ask for help in the first place, so this would make the whole process easier and less stressful.“

We’ve been here before

This is the second trial ATOC have run on turn-up-and-go assistance. In 2014, a successful trial at 34 stations, run in conjunction with the disability consumer body RICA, found that there was no difference in the reliability of turn-up-and-go-assistance and pre-booked assistance.

London Underground has offered turn-up-and-go assistance for years now, and London Overground introduced it to every one of their stations last summer LINK. Rail companies have been under pressure for some time now to catch up, so that whether it’s a ramp, help with luggage or guidance to the right platform, disabled people can travel with the confidence that we’ll get the help we need. Many of our members never book ahead, trial or no trial, and rely on the goodwill and helpfulness of staff.

But this can require a thick skin, and a willingness to brazen out aggressive challenges from some staff of ‘You should booked!”.

Potential for reducing 24 hr booking

ATOC say that the trial will run for ‘a minimum’ of six months, and warn that it only extends to travel between the 36 stations. Pre-booking is still possible at each of these stations. ATOC have also indicated that they are looking into shortening the booking time for assistance throughout the network, potentially to two hours. They don’t have to look far for an example of an operator which, despite having stations which are unstaffed for some of the time they are open, gives a better offer to disabled passengers: Scotrail advises disabled people to book only four hours before!

We at Transport for All think that when a station is staffed from first-to-last train, there can be no justification for requiring 24 hours notice for assistance booking.

Train companies need to act to protect and increase station staffing. We’d also like to see Department for Transport use the franchising process to push train companies to introduce turn-up-and-go assistance at every station which has staffing around the clock.”

Twenty years after the Disability Discrimination Act was introduced, there can be no excuse for continuing this discriminatory system. Being able to travel at short notice – to deal with the surprises that life throws at you – means equality.

Does the 24-hour assistance booking policy affect you or deter you from journeys? Or perhaps ‘turn-up-and-go’ assistance has improved your life? Your stories and opinions will help us influence rail companies to push forward with Turn Up And Go at more stations – so please email them to lianna [at]

A man standing in front of a painted brick wall smiling at the camera. He is holding a cane and is wearing glasses, a black jacket and a grey t-shirt. A man standing in front of a painted brick wall smiling at the camera. He is holding a cane and is wearing glasses, a black jacket and a grey t-shirt.

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