Transport for All are today celebrating the success of TfA member Doug Paulley and fellow disability campaigners who have managed to secure a commitment from Govia Thameslink Railway (who manage Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southeastern, Southern Rail and Thameslink) to keep its wheelchair spaces free of obstructions.
Previous guidance from Govia said that if a bike is placed in a designated wheelchair space, “please move it if a passenger using a wheelchair needs it”.
The new move went against company policy, with their publication ‘Making Rail Accessible’ saying that staff will “make every effort to keep these dedicated spaces clear and available for wheelchair/powerchair users”.
In a statement, the Office of Rail and Road said: “We have reminded [Govia Thameslink Railway] of their duty to ensure the wheelchair space is kept free of obstructions on its services. GTR has reaffirmed its commitment to doing so.”
Govia also told the regulator that that it will no longer state that cycles can be stored in wheelchair spaces on its website.
Commenting on the news, Doug said:
“I am grateful to the Office of Rail and Road for challenging Govia on an illegal and retrograde practice, and reminding them that wheelchair spaces are to be used by wheelchair users such as myself.
“This was the first time any train operating company allowed dedicated wheelchair spaces to be used for bikes, and it has to be the last.”
The full statement from the Office of Rail and Road can be found on Twitter.