The government has repeatedly ignored concerns raised by its own accessible transport advisers about the “toxic” impact on disabled people of running trains without a member of customer service staff on board, official documents have revealed.
The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) has been warning the Department for Transport (DfT) of its concerns for more than two years, according to letters, minutes of meetings and responses to public consultations.
DPTAC’s warnings have only emerged because of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the rail users’ campaign group The Association of British Commuters.
DPTAC – most of whose members are disabled people – first wrote to a senior DfT civil servant in April 2016 to warn of the “toxic combination of driver-only operated (DOO) trains and unstaffed stations”.
It warned then that such a combination, if there were no customer service staff on the train, was unlawful under the Equality Act.
But DPTAC has continued to raise the issue with the government, with further warnings issued in a response to a consultation in February this year; in its response to the government’s draft transport accessibility action plan; and even – two months ago – in a face-to-face meeting with transport accessibility minister Nusrat Ghani.
Ghani dismissed those concerns in the meeting.