Two commuter groups have launched a high-court
challenge over the Government’s handling of the Southern Rail crisis. They’re accusing
the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, of acting unlawfully by causing indirect discrimination
to disabled passengers. Our political correspondent Carl Mercer reports.
This is the easiest part of Chris Stapleton’s journey to central London on Southern Trains.
Generally, it gets a lot worse when he gets on board.
I’m expecting no-one to be there with a ramp to let me off, even though I’m sure the staff
at my starting station have phoned ahead and told the team at Victoria that I’m coming.
So, fingers crossed. It appears his fears aren’t isolated ones.
Carol Harvey was on the same train. How was Southern when it came to getting ramps for
her to get off, we wondered? Absolute rubbish. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish.
I’m just hoping after all the trouble that’s been caused that there is someone now to get
me off at Clapham junction. That’s why I asked him where he was getting off. So, we’ll just
have to wait and see if there’s anyone at Clapham junction. Cos there never is.
There’s always a problem? Always a problem. Always. Always. Always.
When you’re ready. Not today, though. The ramp was there. But
disability campaigners say that’s too rare. They’re joining a legal case against Southern
and the Government. What we want is for the Secretary of State
to be held responsible and declare that he’s failed to police the franchise in the proper
way, and particularly around ensuring that disabled people can access the train services
that is their right to do so. Today turned out well for Chris, too. The
ramp ready at Victoria when he arrived. He fears though, it won’t be there next time.
I get a tight feeling of anxiety in my stomach, and it’s very unpleasant, very stressful,
and I don’t need that. I want a simple, smooth journey like every one else; I want to be
able to get off the train like everyone else. I don’t want to go through this pfaf and this
palaver every single time. In a statement, Southern told us: It says only a small fraction of journeys by disabled passengers result in complaint.
Carl Mercer, BBC London News.