Another paralympian delayed disembarking

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Sweetjesus

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As a disability rights campaigner, I am disappointed but not surprised to see this happening.

I could go on in depth explaining why this is such a common issue and how to solve them and nothing would get done because we know TOCs have no strong incentive/disincentive to avoid accessibility incidents like this.

It is my experience that many companies (outside railway industry) improved their accessibility only because they found out it'd cost them more to keep their services inaccessible.
 
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vikingdriver

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Both commercial and non commercial guards should be patrolling their trains where practical. However it's not always that simple, most the trains on the Portsmouth Direct Line are now 10 or 12 coaches long and during the peak they are often extremely busy so the guard has no real choice but locate himself in an intermediate driving cab, at Godalming the situation is made worse because of the severe 'S bend' profiled platform limits where the guard can dispatch the train from even with assistance from a platform dispatcher. So if the guard was unaware there was someone requiring assistance with alighting I can see why something like this could happen all too easily.

As others have said there really needs to be an improvement in the mechanism for booking for assistance and relaying information to both the train crew and the platform staff.
Lets also remember that some guards (yes I am traincrew, and at SWR) get to their train as late as possible, sometimes due to late running, minimum grub breaks etc but also sometimes due to, perhaps the best way of putting it is, poor work ethic! To have the guard at the train in good time often means said wheelchair goes past them and allows relevant information to be passed, even if station staff aren't there to help and then if the train is too busy to patrol, they will be aware where the passenger wishes to alight. We also know that some guards even if they can go through their train, sometimes won't! I'm not tarnishing everyone as work shy, the vast majority of the guards I work with are amazing and i'm glad they are down the back of my train.
 

nottsnurse

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Out of interest, and with regards to the footage in the link provided, why were multiple (eight by my count) attempts to close the doors, with attempts even being made whilst the access ramp was being placed?

Is the door closure system automated or was whoever is responsible for closing the doors ignorant of the situation or trying to 'hustle' things along?

After so many failed attempts shouldn't an issue be assumed and an in-person check carried out?
 

hwl

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Out of interest, and with regards to the footage in the link provided, why were multiple (eight by my count) attempts to close the doors, with attempts even being made whilst the access ramp was being placed?

Is the door closure system automated or was whoever is responsible for closing the doors ignorant of the situation or trying to 'hustle' things along?

After so many failed attempts shouldn't an issue be assumed and an in-person check carried out?
A 450 so doors will attempt to close automatically to reduce load on the air con etc. will be responsible for the later closing attempts. The early ones will be the guard before they found out.
 
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From the type of train involved on the video, the doors close automatically after a bit but the closing can be overriden by the conductor if necessary. The guy who eventually brings up the ramp (from the uniform) looks like station, rather than train, crew. So a few things for SWR to to look at here....
Is it not possible for the Twitter desk to be able to alert the station directly cc. control in this kind of situation? The communications chain is otherwise quite long....
 

jon0844

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I suspect it's rather worse in DOO areas. Supposedly GTR has a team of people that travel around to assist people on or off trains at unstaffed stations but I bet it goes wrong frequently. A few years ago I saw a lady in an electric wheelchair who couldn't get off at Huntingdon because the station was unstaffed. She had to go through to St Neots and then travel back. But what do you think the solution is? We're a long way off level access at every platform.
The new trains have call for aid points in the accessible coaches, and backup ramps are stored on the train. I don't know if a driver would do it, but I assume a driver could deploy the ramp from the train if someone isn't at the station to meet it.

Of course, the person needing assistance off the train needs to have been told to use the call for aid 'alarm' and do it before the train has departed* (there may be a short dwell time at a small unstaffed station). If a person is over carried, the same call for aid point could be used to ensure alternative travel arrangements are made ASAP to minimise further delays. At this stage, you can't turn back the clock but you can do everything possible to prevent further problems.

* Another problem is that people may be too scared to use the call for aid, thinking it is only for an emergency. When being boarded, perhaps staff should remind people - or it is stated when booking assistance.
 

Twotwo

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Most of it is poor communication, sometimes station staff knows more then the guard. Guards relies on Tyrell messages (skipping stops, advice to guards, additional stops, core updates on disruption, train stock alteration) on their work email but imagine having to filter it out one by one an email that may that concern you? Station staff have a link where all the tyrell messages are uploaded. I also think control needs to improve their communication with guards tbh.
 

swt_passenger

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Just as a side point, is assistance at Waterloo run by Network Rail? I wonder if that’s part of the communication issue. As a single operator station I can’t really see why SWR shouldn’t provide assistance under their own direct control.
 

jon0844

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That sounds like she should have known her actions were a 'recipe for disaster' so it was her fault!
I think that's a bit of an exaggeration. It isn't about victim blaming, but it is fair to say that you wouldn't email someone to say your house was on fire.

It's not that Twitter might not be able to get a quick response (I've reported a flooded toilet and from the response on Twitter to when someone rushed down to mop up was about 2 or 3 minutes), it's more that you can't rely on it. You have no way of knowing when your Tweet was read, or when it was read and replied to that the social media team have succeeded in getting through to someone. They can't call a guard direct can they? They'd call control and that adds another layer, plus the guard might be on a call, in a tunnel..

..so many things to potentially go wrong.

And as said, if a member of the public helped with best intentions, this might have done the most harm.

It doesn't necessarily mean casting blame, but putting it down to a chain of events that caused it and the hope that things can be done differently in the future.
 

nuts & bolts

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Not all SWR guards are commercial guards and it's my understanding that non-commercial guards remain in the back cab while commercial guards are meant to walk through doing tickets. If this was a case of a non-commercial guard then they wouldn't have known she was on the train unless a) they saw or b) they were told.

I've had wheelchairs on my train countless times and not been told about it. Its hardly "news".
Let's not go down the road about guards in the back or middle cab, it's where they operate the train from when they are not carrying out customer facing duties.

You state you have had "Wheelchairs" on your train, you really need to go and read the disable persons charter of your train company!

You will have carried out Disability Equality Training as per the Equality Act 2010

You need to edit your post to reflect this!

But I have doubts of your railway employment grade.
 

tony_mac

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I don't think twitter was the problem - they confirmed that they had sent the message on to the guard - any other channel of communication would have only been able to do the same thing.
When I was trying to chase some lost luggage, the twitter team managed to speak directly to the guard and report back to me, which is something that the 'correct' approaches had not been able to achieve.

I'm sure that if this was a very rare failure then most people could accept it as just 'things go wrong sometimes'. But it obviously isn't, and the systems clearly have many possible points of failure.
 

duffield

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As a disability rights campaigner, I am disappointed but not surprised to see this happening.

I could go on in depth explaining why this is such a common issue and how to solve them and nothing would get done because we know TOCs have no strong incentive/disincentive to avoid accessibility incidents like this.

It is my experience that many companies (outside railway industry) improved their accessibility only because they found out it'd cost them more to keep their services inaccessible.
I would have thought that the best way to give TOCs a strong incentive to improve things would be a series of high profile court case organised and backed by a disability rights organisation, starting with the worst TOCs. Several individuals with relevant requirements who travel regularly could all document their experiences and provide compelling evidence of the (say) continual 10%+ failure rate of assistance, with a breakdown of exactly what and where the issues were and take collective action under the relevant laws, emphasising that the main thrust of the case was to bring about change rather than compensation for past failings (makes the TOC more likely to be embarrassed into settling).

This shouldn't be necessary but it may well be the only way to bring about improvements.
(Of course, for all I know this sort of action is already in progress).

TOCs/NR should have measurable targets for assistance provision, lift availability etc. with escalating penalties for failure (maybe these already exist but I'm not aware of them).

Context: I'm not (currently) significantly physically disabled myself, but I have some pretty negative and very anxiety inducing experiences of dealing with the inadequacy of the current system in relation to my late wife's disability. We often ended up not even attempting to travel for leisure purposes because it was too stressful.
 

Sweetjesus

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I would have thought that the best way to give TOCs a strong incentive to improve things would be a series of high profile court case organised and backed by a disability rights organisation, starting with the worst TOCs. Several individuals with relevant requirements who travel regularly could all document their experiences and provide compelling evidence of the (say) continual 10%+ failure rate of assistance, with a breakdown of exactly what and where the issues were and take collective action under the relevant laws, emphasising that the main thrust of the case was to bring about change rather than compensation for past failings (makes the TOC more likely to be embarrassed into settling).

This shouldn't be necessary but it may well be the only way to bring about improvements.
(Of course, for all I know this sort of action is already in progress).

TOCs/NR should have measurable targets for assistance provision, lift availability etc. with escalating penalties for failure (maybe these already exist but I'm not aware of them).

Context: I'm not (currently) significantly physically disabled myself, but I have some pretty negative and very anxiety inducing experiences of dealing with the inadequacy of the current system in relation to my late wife's disability. We often ended up not even attempting to travel for leisure purposes because it was too stressful.
I think a high profile court case would do well, I believe TOCs have been sued due to their failure to ensure their services are accessible before and they have lost some cases.

The precedent is already there, it's just that not many are empowered enough fight against TOCs, let alone know that it's actually possible to stand up against something like this.
 

Llanigraham

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The new trains have call for aid points in the accessible coaches, and backup ramps are stored on the train. I don't know if a driver would do it, but I assume a driver could deploy the ramp from the train if someone isn't at the station to meet it.

Of course, the person needing assistance off the train needs to have been told to use the call for aid 'alarm' and do it before the train has departed* (there may be a short dwell time at a small unstaffed station). If a person is over carried, the same call for aid point could be used to ensure alternative travel arrangements are made ASAP to minimise further delays. At this stage, you can't turn back the clock but you can do everything possible to prevent further problems.

* Another problem is that people may be too scared to use the call for aid, thinking it is only for an emergency. When being boarded, perhaps staff should remind people - or it is stated when booking assistance.
This has been covered in the past, and I am sure drivers have said that they would not do it. To leave their cab they need to notify the signaller and do various "protection" jobs first, plus they are not trained to use the ramps.
 
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Aren’t non-commercial guards still supposed to patrol the train?

Isn’t this what the RMT is striking over keeping just those people on the train, RMT have made a big thing about disability discrimination and have been strangely quiet on this one.
 

nuts & bolts

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Just as a side point, is assistance at Waterloo run by Network Rail? I wonder if that’s part of the communication issue. As a single operator station I can’t really see why SWR shouldn’t provide assistance under their own direct control.
Nationally Network Rail operate (where you book 24hrs in advance) the Disable Assistance Service and feed the booked info to the TOC's.

Each TOC will differ how the booked assist info is pushed through to station staff & guards etc.
 

ComUtoR

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You state you have had "Wheelchairs" on your train, you really need to go and read the disable persons charter of your train company!

You will have carried out Disability Equality Training as per the Equality Act 2010

You need to edit your post to reflect this!
I have never heard of a disabled persons charter at my TOC and I have never had any equality training.
 

nuts & bolts

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Aren’t non-commercial guards still supposed to patrol the train?

Isn’t this what the RMT is striking over keeping just those people on the train, RMT have made a big thing about disability discrimination and have been strangely quiet on this one.
We are not aware of the full facts of the formation and timing of departure from Waterloo of this train. What we do know is somehow the passenger had (non TOC staff) assistance boarding

The guard will patrol the train checking tickets and a busy 12 coach train is not the easiest to work through (if this was the case) there 'may' have been a change of crew at Guildford, if so the relief guard would again not be aware of the situation.

The passenger had two possible opportunities to alert platform staff (for further assistance at Godalming) at either Woking or Guildford via another passenger!

There may well have been unconnected issues onboard engaging the guard or both guards and this may possibly be down to disruption on the Network.


Hope this helps?
 
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AngusH

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I still think the eventual answer is a complete rearrangement to allow unassisted wheelchair use, probably with ramps or raised platforms, but this doesn't seem to be on the cards.


Thought:

Use a radar (or equivalent) lockable three way switch to indicate

1) Turn Right -> Passenger is in disabled space/using a wheelchair

2) Turn Left -> Want to get off at next station


Could illuminate a light on the coach/train outside or inside or both to show that assistance is required.
 

AM9

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I think that's a bit of an exaggeration. It isn't about victim blaming, but it is fair to say that you wouldn't email someone to say your house was on fire.

It's not that Twitter might not be able to get a quick response (I've reported a flooded toilet and from the response on Twitter to when someone rushed down to mop up was about 2 or 3 minutes), it's more that you can't rely on it. You have no way of knowing when your Tweet was read, or when it was read and replied to that the social media team have succeeded in getting through to someone. They can't call a guard direct can they? They'd call control and that adds another layer, plus the guard might be on a call, in a tunnel..

..so many things to potentially go wrong.

And as said, if a member of the public helped with best intentions, this might have done the most harm.

It doesn't necessarily mean casting blame, but putting it down to a chain of events that caused it and the hope that things can be done differently in the future.
As paddington said in post #3,
"She tried to call them but nobody answered.
She then tweeted them and the twitter team said they informed the guard.
This evidently did not happen as the guard did not arrange a ramp for her to board."
Once on the platform at the correct place it seems from posts that she didn't have access to any staff who were prepared to even seek help so she used the two channels of communication offered by the TOC, i.e calling a phone number - no answer, so the other channel - twitter, they confirmed that they had taken appropriate action so either they lied or they were incompetent.
In this event, none of those attemps to get assistance were inappropriate when considered from the position of the individual being stuck on a platform. Posters here dismiss her actions on the basis that the 'railway's system doesn't work that way'. If it is so well known amongst the TOC's staff that it doesn't work that way then:
a) fix it so that it does​
or
b) publicise the fact that phone calls to official numbers might not be answered and twitter requests might be confirmed as acted upon but actually ignored.​
At least the passenger would know where they stand then.
 

greaterwest

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they lied or they were incompetent
I suppose you didn't consider the possibility that the guard may not have been in a position to answer a call, and may have missed any possible voicemails left by the people at the SWR Twitter desk. In this case, I suspect the onus would have been on the guard.
 

swt_passenger

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Nationally Network Rail operate (where you book 24hrs in advance) the Disable Assistance Service and feed the booked info to the TOC's.

Each TOC will differ how the booked assist info is pushed through to station staff & guards etc.
Thanks, but I was thinking more about the individual staff working on the platforms?
 

Ethano92

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In all honesty, I don't really agree with the whole ''guard might not have been able to walk through" because whether I take a crush loaded train or a sleepy Sunday morning train I so so rarely see the guard. I'm pretty sure all SWR stock has guard pannels by each door, at least the 450 in the video and the 455 on my line does. As soon as the train isn't too crowded (and I doubt this one was if only one passenger came to assist her) why can't the guard then begin to walk through, that's a start.

We've also got high floor trains rolling around for the next 40 years when Stadler have proved that level boarding without a gap is already available on straight platforms of I'm guessing, a standard height, which I know wasn't the platform in this video. Saying that with the width of the gap at the likes of Vauxhall and Clapham I'm not sure if a lower floor would help.

I do agree as much was done as could be done for what we have but I don't agree that it's adequate, we have no idea how long she had to wait but honestly any time is annoyingly long, Im imagining pulling into a station and the guard takes 5 minutes to release the doors, or 10 or more.

As a side note, going London bound if you're getting off at Clapham or further I think it would be fine for other passengers to help you on, the train will only get busier no? As for the other direction I agree it may not be the smartest thing if you can instead inform staff and catch another service not that it's the fairest system.

My genuine question is if all the other doors auto closed or closed when the guard pressed the button, is there a reason they wouldnt have been able to walk and locate the likely only door still open on that train? Or look at the lights on the side to locate it? Do they have to stay in the same place for dispatch?
 
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Train was the 18.45 Waterloo to Portsmouth stopping service, which whilst a 12 car ‘peak service’ isn’t very heavily loaded and that’s before you take into account the summer holidays reducing numbers further so would have been no issue walking through but there may have been other things I guess stopping the guard doing that?
 

DennisM

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Assuming this was a 12x 450, there would’ve been the issue of the 8 coach platforms at Farncombe immediately before and Milford straight after keeping the guard away from the rear 4. It certainly appears the woman involved was in the rear unit of the train as you can see the station car park through the fence in the video.
The train started from platform 11 (immediately to the left of boots) at Waterloo which is among the worst for curvature so the guard would’ve been located towards the middle/front for dispatch purposes. There would’ve been 2 dispatchers involved which could’ve contributed if both assumed the other had told the guard, if indeed either of them knew about the required assistance.
 

AM9

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I suppose you didn't consider the possibility that the guard may not have been in a position to answer a call, and may have missed any possible voicemails left by the people at the SWR Twitter desk. In this case, I suspect the onus would have been on the guard.
I considered that 'the railway had failed'. Whatever excuse posters here dream up, ultimately it is SWRs (and every other TOC's) responsibility to provide resources to meet their accessibility obligations. Any other argumnet is just trying to avoid the issue. If they really can't service the process that is advertised (and by can't, I don't mean that it might dent their profits), then admit it and remove the mechanisms that they can't be bothered to ensure are available.
I've generally declined to comment on these forums when some posters close in on criticism and defend poor performance of the railway, but this is slightly different in that such comments as:
"I dont understand, she got off the train at her stop according to the news report, even though she had to wait?"
and
"Not all SWR guards are commercial guards and it's my understanding that non-commercial guards remain in the back cab while commercial guards are meant to walk through doing tickets."

indicate to me an attitude that can only perpetuate the problems that those who need assistance face. The first comment looks like sheer disinterest and even contempt, the second is dancing on the head of a pin as to why a particular grade of guard is an unavoidable fact of life.
 

greaterwest

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I considered that 'the railway had failed'.
Then you should probably not assert that the person manning the Twitter desk had "lied" (implying they deliberately failed to attempt to inform the guard) nor "incompetent" as it was almost certainly not their fault. They would have passed on the message as best as they could.
 
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