Accessibility and ownership of the UK’s railways | Letters

Accessibility and ownership of the UK’s railways | Letters

Re the letter from Charles Horton of Govia Thameslink Railway (21 January), removing the guarantee of “turn up and go” travel at 33 stations and formalising the need for advance booking all over the network means taking a significant step back for rail accessibility. It even goes against the grain of the rail industry itself, which is heading steadily towards the target of making all vehicles fully accessible by 1 January 2020. He should elaborate on exactly what “clear system” is in place for disabled passengers on Southern. We have recently heard reports of wheelchair users being left behind on platforms, as well as and instances of communication failures throughout the year – affecting even pre-booked travel. If he wants to restore disabled passengers’ confidence, he should start by declaring publicly what percentage of trains are now running without an on-board supervisor. Southern should then begin a more intelligent approach to communications and staffing.
Emily Yates
Co-founder, Association of British Commuters

• Calls for public ownership (Government planning possible takeover of Southern rail, 26 January) are understandable but there is also an opportunity to look at alternative ways of creating an efficient rail network – one that is trusted by passengers and workers alike. Inspiration can be taken from George Freeman MP, chair of the prime minister’s policy board, who has long advocated a mutual model for rail franchises. This chimes neatly with both the Shaw report on the future shape and financing of Network Rail, which recommended that new franchises should have greater union and passenger representation, and with the PM’s ambition for a greater voice for workers on company boards. More thought should be put into the running of rail franchises as multi-stakeholder social enterprises, with worker and passenger representation at the top table and a commitment to reinvesting profits in service delivery.
Peter Holbrook
Chief executive, Social Enterprise UK

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Source: Guardian Transport

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