The equality watchdog is considering legal action against the government over its failure to ensure an accessible rail service, according to a leading disabled expert.
The potential legal action emerged in the wake of anger directed at rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – which runs Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern – after it issued “grossly insulting” guidance to staff on how to deal with disabled rail passengers.
Among the advice in the Pit Stop guidance was that staff should not attempt to place “persons of reduced mobility (PRM)” on a train “if there is a possibility of delaying the service”.
It also tells staff that any PRM wishing to travel by train to an unstaffed station should be taken to the nearest staffed station to their destination and then “assisted into a taxi”.
And it says that “ill passengers need to be removed from the train as quickly as possible” because “not taking action will cause thousands of other passengers to be stuck on trains”.
For people “who are fitting”, the guidance says, staff should “wait for the convulsions to stop and be ready, if appropriate, to move them once they have started to wake up”.
Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said the guidance was “shocking” and “grossly insulting to disabled people, who are being treated as second class citizens”.
Although other disabled campaigners were outraged at GTR’s guidance, they also said it was an inevitable consequence of government rail policies.