We need train staff! Petition hand-in Mon 20 Feb

A woman with her guide dog is inside a train carriage stopped at the platform.  A 
station staff man is guiding her to find a seat.  The disability carriage doors are open and the ramp is down.
Sarah Leadbetter from NFBUK getting on a train, with assistance from a member of staff.

On Monday 20 February, WinVisible is joining the National Federation of the Blind (NFB UK) and Association of British Commuters at Downing St to hand in petitions to keep staff in train stations and to keep the guards on the train, for disabled / women’s safety and passenger safety generally. Groups supporting are booked in teams from 9am to 3.30pm — WinVisible is booked for 3pm with Inclusion London and others. Campaigners are coming from Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Kent, Leicestershire, London, Surrey, Sussex and Warwickshire, among groups across England, Scotland and Wales who have signed.

NFB UK say: “Over 150 UK organisations* support the NFB UK petition to the Prime Minister to rethink proposed rail modernisation plans which will prevent disabled people travelling by train independently.”

“We are extremely worried about the Government’s proposed changes to the staffing at railway stations and on train services across the UK. The changes include closing all ticket offices down, reducing staff and removing guards (also known as train managers or conductors) on trains. These proposed changes are unacceptable as we need safety, security and accessibility at all train stations.  We need guards left on trains, and ticket offices left open and for longer.  We also want unstaffed stations to become staffed to allow even more people to travel safely and independently and for all trains to have guards on them.  The petition is:

1: For all ticket offices to remain open and all staffed stations to remain staffed at all times with safe level of staffing. 

2: For all trains to have guards (train managers or conductors) at all times.

3: For all unstaffed stations to become staffed at all times with safe level of staffing.

petition for women’s safety on the railways, with almost 120,000 signatures will also be submitted during the day. Safety and security on trains and at stations is off paramount importance to women and with less staff, no guards and unstaffed stations being proposed it is clear women’s safety has been abandoned in these modernisation plans.”

A woman who signed the petition for train guards commented: “I travel on trains regularly. I have witnessed harassment of fellow female travellers three separate times, and appreciated the assistance provided by a train guard when one was present. Once I was on a train without a guard, and a man flashed at me. With no train guard to report this to, I was too scared to do anything but move away from the man. I was terrified he might try and follow me off the train. Some of my friends have even been sexually assaulted on public transport.

NFB UK say:

 

    • Disabled community will be plunged into greater isolation as travelling on trains independently will no longer be possible under proposed modernisation changes. Removing staff from staffed stations and removing all guards from trains will make all train journeys unsafe and very stressful for blind, visually impaired, disabled and vulnerable train passengers. Without staffed stations and guards on trains, Disabled people will no longer be able to travel independently, leading to greater isolation in the disabled community, removing the ability to travel to work by train, to meet friends and visit places by train. 

 

    • Disabled people should be able to travel at any time and not have the stress of worrying about what will happen at the start and end of their journeys or when they have to transfer to another train.

 

    • NFBUK campaign videos clearly show the concerns raised with the proposed modernisation plans for the rail network which are seen as introducing widespread discrimination preventing disabled people from being able to travel by train:

       

        • Jan Shortt General Secretary of the National Pensioners Convention from Newcastle explains talk the impacts of the proposed changes on older and disabled people in this twitter film 

        • Sarah Leadbetter, National Campaigns Officer NFBUK

           

            • with her Guide Dog at Narborough Station in Leicestershire explaining why is assistance is needed twitterYouTube  

            • explains how discriminatory the proposed changes to the management of the railways are at Narborough Station

        • Kevin Greenan, who is blind and is from Rochdale in Greater Manchester talking about his concerns at Mills Hill station if Guards are taken off the trains in Middleton and his very powerful message to Mark Harper, the Secretary of State for Transport.

        • Jane Sellers, severely visually impaired from Surrey explains about her safety fears of having to use trains with no guards on Twitter and Facebook 

    • NFBUK and their allies have recently won significant victories with the launch of a Transport Select Committee inquiry on accessible transport and legal obligations, and the intervention of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the industrial dispute over rail staffing.

    • This article explains the existing discrimination already occurring on the rail network due to Driver Only trains already in use, by Disability News Service  with research by the from Association of British Commuters. 

    • Petitions will be handed in on the United Nations Social Justice Day. 

The Petition has already been handed into Mark Harper on 29 December 2022 (as reported by BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-64161363) and to Prime Minister on 11 January 2023 https://twitter.com/nfbuk/status/1613298440540393472?s=46&t=d3-bwaDAasW3dS5nG7RM6Q

However, we had no reply from Mark Harper or the Prime Minister so we are taking it back with colleagues to Number 10 to get the Rishi Sunak attention and to show we are NOT going to be ignored.  

The threat of closing all ticket offices is absolutely real and it is essential we try and stop this becoming reality as the Rail Minister tries to justify pushing this discriminatory policy at a recent Transport Select Committee meeting.

*Supporting organisations so far:

East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired Peoples Forum; Tamworth and Lichfield Brain Injury Support Group, Headway; Pocklington Lodge Tenants’ Association; London Sports Club for the Blind;  Eastbourne Access Group; Independent Disability Council Leeds; Children Living with Autism Parent Advocacy Network; The Access Committee for Leeds; Action on Disability, London; My Vision, Oxfordshire; Blind Aid, London; Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind, Warwickshire; Barnsley Blind and Partially Sighted Association; Sightseekers, Chorley; Essex Blind Charity; Sandwell Visually Impaired; East Sussex Vision Support; Berkshire DPAC; Hearing Loss Cornwall; Hi-Vis UK, Hartlepool; Inclusion London; Visually Impaired in Camden, London; Bournemouth Blind Society; Age UK Somerset; Sight Support Derbyshire; Buckinghamshire Disability Service, BuDS; Disability Rights UK; Shettleston Men’s Shed, Glasgow; Earth Balance Shed (Next to Blue Tower), Bedlington; East Durham Trust; The Blaydon Shed; Stalham Men’s Shed, Norwich; Devon in Sight; Leicester Disabled People’s Access Group; Deafblind Enablement; Breathing Space Durham; Fight for Sight; National Association of Disabled Staff Network (NADSN); Sawley Parish Councillors; Newcastle Vision Support; Cam Sight, Cambridge; South Western Rail Watch; East Cheshire Eye Society; Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea (ADKC); Wales Council of the Blind; Southampton Sight; Croydon Vision; Yorkshire Coast Sight Support; The Partially Sighted Society; Association of British Commuters; National Pensioners Convention; UNISON South West London Mental Health Branch; Outlookers – The Local Sight Loss Charity; Defiant Sports; Lincoln & Lindsey Blind Society; Accessible Calderdale Project; Hebden Bridge Disability Access Forum; Hackney Disability BackUp; Beyond Sight Loss; Halifax Society for the Blind; Thomas Pocklington Trust; Goalball UK; Merton Vision; Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People; Merlin MS centre, St Austell; Insight Gloucestershire; Staffordshire Sight Loss; Dorset Blind; Chesham Pioneers Blind and Partially Sighted Bowls Club; My Sight Notts; Keratoconus Self-Help and Support Association; Braille Chess Association; 4Sight Vision Support; Sutton Senior Forum; Visionary; Bristol Older People’s Forum; Wakefield District Sight Aid; Redditch Association for the Blind; Hornsey Pensioners; Age UK Leicestershire & Rutland; The Shepshed Dolphin Swimming Group; North Staffs Pensioners Convention; World of Inclusion Ltd; UK Disability History Month; Bromley Experts by Experience; Women in Rural Enterprise (WIRE); Loughborough Feminist Society; Southend In Sight; Kingston Association for the Blind; One Place East; Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living; Bardel-Bedi Syndrome UK; Gloucestershire Federation Women’s Institute; My Life My Choice, Oxford; Leeds Centre for Integrated Living; Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind; Rotherham sight and sound; N-Vision, Blackpool, Flyde & Wyre Society for the Blind; Disability Sheffield; Arthritis Action; National Association of Retired Police Officers, Cornwall; Herefordshire Federation WI; Wigan, Leigh & District Society for the Blind; Disability Action Yorkshire; Sutton Vision; Vista Leicestershire; Forest Sensory Service, Gloucestershire; Vision Support; Glasgow Disability Alliance; Kent Association for the Blind; Loughborough Students’ Union Labour Society; Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC); Wrexham DPAC; DPAC Cambs and Essex; LOOK UK; Norfolk Vision; Nystagmus Network; Friends of Sensory Blind Garden, Essex; Coton Green Women’s Club; Vision Support Barrow & District; Sight Action, Dingwell, Inverness; BME VOLUNTEERS, London; Chronic Illness Inclusion; Milton Keynes Centre for Integrated Living; Stay Safe East; Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People; Blackburn and District Blind Society; BucksVision, Buckinghamshire; Sight for Surrey; Harrogate & District Community Action (HADCA); Together Trust; Disability Advice Service Lambeth; Warrington Disability Partnership; Surrey Coalition of Disabled People; BRIGHT deafblind; Bradbury Fields – A division of Catholic Blind Institute, Liverpool; Sight Loss Shropshire; Galloway’s; Retina UK; iSight Cornwall; Luton All Women’s Centre; WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities); Mothers’ Union Leicester Diocese; Disability North; Men and Women in Sheds Rutland; Dudley Trades Union Council; Federation of Essex WIs; Sight Advice South Lakes; Harrow Association of Disabled People; Macular Society.


Last year, we were glad to contribute to the Transport for All joint letter signed by 15 organisations against ticket office closures. WinVisible also supports the @RMTunion strike on jobs, pay and conditions.

In the RMT survey, 89% of station staff said that the plans would worsen the experience for disabled passengers and those who need more support. 93% of on-board staff said they believed that introducing more Driver Only Operated trains, which can run without a second member of staff on board, would worsen the experience of travelling by train for disabled passengers.

In train stations, we find a lot of mothers with small babies or with several young children, older people, and other passengers including tourists whose first language is not English, who like us, may need help, guidance or physical assistance from staff to be able to use public transport.

 

2 thoughts on “We need train staff! Petition hand-in Mon 20 Feb”

  1. Guards needed on platforms to see disabled travellers safely on and off trains. Those with hearing and sight disabilities need to know and be personally guided to where to go to change trains and platforms. Keep Guards on platforms!

    Reply

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