Further to the RMT’s announcement this morning about GTR’s latest disabled access policy, we are now able to provide a copy of the full document: Pit Stop GTR
Having studied the ‘Pit Stop’ staff training document in full, we would like to emphasise that Southern Rail’s public comments today on the issue have been extremely misleading. Here’s what they have said on Twitter so far:
We strongly object to their claim that the staff training document has been ‘taken out of context’, and now present the three main areas where it discriminates against and even potentially endangers passengers.
Pit Stop: Key principles for managing station dwell times
Pit Stop GTR applies to all four brands of Govia Thameslink Railway and focuses on cutting down dwell times at stations. From the very first page, the document clearly spells out the ‘key principles and priorities’ of dispatch: Safety, Speed, Efficiency and Professionalism. Nowhere is the principle of equality of access even referred to in what is clearly a core training document for staff.
Pages 3 – 5 on ‘Right Time Start’ and the 20, 30, 40 dispatch process are nothing new – these kind of management initiatives have been around for at least 20 years. To be clear: there is nothing wrong with the rail industry working on improving dwell times – but there is everything wrong with a policy that priorities this to the exclusion of basic human rights – and completely ignores the context of destaffing and the removal of the onboard staff guarantee. This document shows a ruthless disregard for the welfare of a wide range of vulnerable passengers, solely for the sake of efficiency.
Now more than ever, we urge all disability rights campaigners to demand the full and transparent publication of all research on dwell times. This call should be made urgently to the Department for Transport and include the lobbying of the Rail Delivery Group for the immediate release of the #SDGreport.
Pit Stop: a GTR staff training document proving the rollback of disabled access
This document proves the argument we have been making for two years: that the removal of a guaranteed guard from the train creates a loophole that will inevitably lead to institutionalised breaches of the Equality Act. With the ‘call ahead’ policy described below, it also shows that this will have an equal effect on pre-booked or ‘turn up and go’ passengers. Indeed, there is no mention of booking or turn up and go on this document: so the myth that pre-booking will ensure successful journeys under DOO is dispelled.
Removing a wheelchair user from their chosen form of transport because of the company’s inability to staff the network adequately is blatant discrimination. We do not consider taxis a reasonable adjustment, especially with the extended waiting times at unstaffed rural stations. It is only a matter of time before this Equality Act breach is confronted in court – and that’s not our opinion, but the verdict of the 2-year buried Rail Delivery Group report on the matter.
Here are the three main points that we believe discrimate against, humiliate, and potentially endanger vulnerable passengers:
1. The document proves that GTR has begun a ‘call ahead’ policy
Two months ago, we went to the press over a number of incidents where wheelchair users were refused boarding, despite having booked ahead. GTR denied there was any such policy.
Today, we can say definitively that what we claimed to be a new policy from GTR is indeed the case. The process of contacting the destination station to ensure staff are available is spelt out in detail on page 8:
This can only be the result of the removal of the guaranteed second staff member from GTR trains; the central argument of the RMT industrial dispute. It is no longer the case that a guaranteed guard will stay with the train and thus be primarily responsible for the disabled person’s boarding and alighting. This again proves the main point of the buried Rail Delivery Group report: ‘the Conductor is the best line of assistance for older and disabled people’.
2. GTR guidance sacrifices equality for dwell times
The issue of dwell times is something that we have been able to find little information on, and we are still pursuing the buried #SDGreport, in the suspicion that it focuses on passenger behaviour around this issue. Page 7 is the perhaps the most damning page in the ‘Pit Stop’ document, as it implies that equality of access is not even a consideration to GTR:
It is also troubling that the presence of an ‘onboard supervisor’ is not assumed here, and the process seems to refer only to station staff’s role in the process.
3. GTR’s policy on moving sick passengers could endanger them further
Particularly cruel is the language around passengers taken ill on trains. Anyone with First Aid training will see immediately that GTR’s miniscule list of contraindications to moving passengers is insensitive and potentially dangerous. To remove someone who has just suffered a grand mal seizure onto a freezing platform when they are disorientated, with no medical presence or advice, would be unforgivable.