The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has condemned Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR) policy to disabled passengers found in the operator’s new timetable arrangements that came into effect on the 20th May 2018.

Instruction from GTR to staff ahead of the new timetable, the UK’s largest ever timetable change, regarding ‘Persons of Reduced Mobility’ (PRM) stated: “DO NOT attempt to place PRM on train if there is a possibility of delaying the service.”

Calling the practices ‘a disgusting insult to disabled people’, the RMT has called for Govia Thameslink Railway to be stripped of its franchise.

Mick Cash, General Secretary of RMT, said: “I cannot believe in this day and age we are telling staff to ignore the needs of disabled people if the time it will take to deploy a ramp and assist them onto the train will cause a delay.

“In the minute before the train departs, staff are instructed to blow a whistle at 20 seconds, then, at 30 seconds, the driver will close the doors and at 40 seconds, the driver initiates the right of way procedure.

“They are introducing a policy which effectively means disabled people will not be assisted onto the train and allowed to travel. This is outrageous and flies in the face of their Disabled Peoples Protection Policy which requires them to ensure assistance is available.

“If this is not bad enough, in respect of anyone having a seizure whilst on a train, the guidance says: ‘Explain that your first priority is care for the individual, but not taking action will cause thousands of other passengers to be stuck…move the ill passenger from the train as quickly as possible’. This is truly shocking advice and an insult to all passengers.

“They now need to be stripped of the franchise to make way for an integrated, publicly owned operation that is properly equipped to deliver these services.”

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