What does the future of railway staffing mean for disabled and older passengers?

This week Action for Rail publishes a new report looking at what impact the proposals to cut 14,000 jobs on stations and trains will have on disabled and older passengers.

What does the future of railway staffing mean for disabled and older passengers? has been produced in partnership with Transport for All, the National Pensioners Convention and Disabled People Against Cuts and includes findings from a new survey of disabled passengers commissioned by Action for Rail.

The survey findings show that disabled passengers hugely value the availability of staff on trains and at stations. 39% of disabled passengers say that they rely on staff assistance, a further 32% said they found it helpful.

Key benefits that staff provide include enhancing personal safety and security, providing travel information, buying tickets and help access facilities and getting on and off trains.

No wonder then that over 75% said the loss of staff would make train travel difficult, with over a third saying that it would deter them making some journeys on make travel impossible.

A particularly worrying finding from our survey was that over a quarter (27%) said they had been abused or suffered a hate crime while using the railways (jumping to over 40% for those that use wheelchairs). Losing staff from trains and stations is no joke for many people who face this kind of hostility and threat.

The government, through their Access Action Plan, have asked all train operators to produce Disabled Person’s Protection Plans (DPPPs) to demonstrate how they will broaden access to the railways for disabled passengers. Yet at the same time, proposals in the McNulty Review, endorsed by both the government and rail operators, indicates that we could lose up to:

  • 7,000 guards and other non-driver staff on trains
  • 5,000 station and platform staff
  • 2,000 ticket office staff
  • 675 ticket offices

How train operators intend to square this circle is yet to be seen. We will be writing to all of them to find out, so watch this space.

In the meantime, we will be joining up with disabled and older passengers to meet MPs at Westminster to raise these concerns on Wednesday 24 April at 1.30pm. If you want to join us email actionforrail@tuc.org.uk  And you’ll find us up at Kings Cross station from 4.30pm that same day. Come along and join us.