On 31st October, we announced the legal grounds on which we will proceed to judicial review against the Department for Transport. Our legal argument takes on the unlawful lack of transparency from the DfT, and their failure to monitor the Govia franchise; leading to a breach of the Equality Act 2010. Please add your comments below and help us urgently raise awareness of access issues on Southern Rail.
The Association of British Commuters believes that it is totally unacceptable, unlawful and immoral that disabled passengers have to book assistance as long as 48 hours in advance, and, even then, are not assured of a service. Our lawyers will make the argument that, by failing to monitor the franchise, the Secretary of State allows Govia to indirectly discriminate against disabled passengers; contrary to sections 19 and 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
If DOO becomes the norm on the network, this could mean a permanent breach of the Equality Act in cases where unstaffed trains stop at unstaffed platforms, particularly in rural areas across the South. This is a situation that Ann Bates OBE has warned could set back equality of access rights thirty years. In line with her expert argument that Southern’s plans for DOO will breach the Equality Act, it is vital that the definition of ‘exceptional circumstances’ is not allowed to become a get-out clause for Govia.
The Transport Select Committee backs up our argument with their report of 14th October, of which paragraph 56 states the following: “We are concerned that no official impact assessment has been made of the potential effects of DOO on disabled people’s access to the railway. We recommend the DfT and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) jointly commission research into the potential effects of DOO on the “turn up and go” accessibility of the railway to disabled people who require assistance getting on and off trains. The Department should draw on this research to issue guidance to train operating companies on the measures that should be taken to mitigate potential detrimental effects on disabled people’s access. It should ensure that actions are taken to guarantee that disabled rail passengers receive the support to which they are entitled.”
How you can help:
We urgenly call on disabled passengers to contribute comments to this blog on their experience using Southern Rail, which will be used to aid public awareness of the issue. Please keep your comments short, clear and concise (preferably under 80 words), and include any important dates/locations of incidents.
Please be informed that we will share these comments with the press, MPs, and the Select Committee for Transport; and may contact contributors later with a full witness statement form should we need to include these statements in our court case.