Disabled and older Londoners are now able to benefit from Turn Up and Go assistance at more London stations across the region, following TfL’s latest acquisition of new lines. Disabled people using these lines will no longer be requested to book 24hours ahead.
London Overground, which operates the Overground network on behalf of TfL, now run some of the new lines, having taken over from private operator Abellio Greater Anglia during May 2015. Stopping services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield are now also being run as TfL Rail in preparation for the launch of a new Crossrail branded service set to run from 2017. London Overground’s latest routes now include:
- Liverpool Street to Enfield Town
- Cheshunt (via Seven Sisters) to Chingford
- Romford to Upminster.
The London Overground and TfL Rail acquisitions also mean that the Freedom Pass is now valid on these lines on a 24-hour basis, rather than just after 9.30am. In addition, extra staff are on hand from the very first to the very last train at all London Overground stations.
Whilst other UK rail operators continue to request that disabled people inform them at least 24 hours in advance if they wish to have assistance, Transport for All have always maintained this practice is both inconvenient and discriminatory. In 2014, London Overground became the first UK rail operator to introduce Turn Up and Go assistance at every station within its network. It means that disabled people can simply turn up at any London Overground-run or managed station and seek assistance for their journey without having to pre-book.
Support for rail devolution
Transport for All director Faryal Velmi recently spoke at the London Assembly Transport Committee in support of further rail devolution where she urged TfL to take control of more rail lines in London (such as those operated currently by Southern or SouthEastern):
“TfA strongly supports rail devolution as in London it would be mean the levelling up of accessibility standards and the general usability of the capital’s suburban rail network,” she said during her speech.
“A testimony to this is how London Overground has improved access to the stations that is part of its network through more investment in improvements and Turn Up and Go. We would like to go further and see all rail services in London taken over by TfL and run by them directly like they run the Tube network. This would mean that the profit generated by these services could be ploughed back into the service rather than shareholders in Hong Kong and Germany as currently happens with London Overground.”
However, Transport for All member Yahya Bismillah, has been disappointed with the amount of times Turn Up and Go assistance has failed in the past and isn’t sure the change in provider will make a significant difference to his rail travel experiences. Yahya uses the Clapton line regularly for hospital appointments and is reliant on assistance to help him reach his destination on time, but has found, time and time again that the assistance is just not there.
“Although the London Overground are much more friendly and helpful than Abellio Greater Anglia, there is still too many examples of when I’ve been let down,” he says. “They say ‘we’re here to help’, but then they just disappear. I’ve made head office aware of the situation but I just feel that it is empty promises.”
He added: “London Overground have promised me that whenever I want turn up and go assistance it will be there, but often it just isn’t.”