Ministers have been colluding with the railway industry to push forward Driver Only Operated trains, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) says.
The rail union has added its voice to those of passenger groups calling on new Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to put an end to the drive toward Driver Only Operated trains and to make the railway accessible to all by ensuring that trains and stations are fully staffed.
The RMT highlight documents secured under Freedom of Information legislation by the Association of British Commuters (ABC). It says the documents show that Ministers have been colluding with the railway industry to push forward policies that could lead to more trains without a second safety critical member of staff, passing through unstaffed stations. This is on the basis of a policy report that they’ve refused to admit exists, and in the face of fierce criticism from its own disabled persons’ advisory committee, DPTAC.
Mick Cash RMT General Secretary said: “RMT has fought the government and the train operating companies tooth and nail to defend a second safety critical member of staff on our trains and we’ve stepped up the campaign to put more staff back in our stations. It’s a scandal that ministers have been working in secret with these companies on cost-cutting and profit-boosting policies that will make our railways less accessible to disabled people. The new rail minister must publish this report, put an end to this disgraceful exercise and put staff back at the heart of a fully accessible railway”.
Emily Yates of the Association of British Commuters said: "Train operating companies must guarantee the second safety critical member of staff on trains and the Department for Transport must provide the full details of their secret policy.
"If they fail to do this, both will be complicit in breaching the Equality Act and excluding disabled people from the right to spontaneous travel."
Sue Bott Disability Rights UK’s Head of Policy and Research said: “Disability Rights UK fully supports the call to the new Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to make full accessibility on the railways his priority.
"We are appalled that the Government has apparently been colluding with some train companies on introducing driver only operated trains thus making it impossible for some disabled people to travel. It’s time to back the rights of disabled people.”
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