What more can be done for passengers needing assistance?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by pompeyfan, 8 Nov 2019 at 11:09.

  1. pompeyfan

    pompeyfan Established Member

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    On Twitter the association of British commuters appear to be running a disability discrimination shaming program recently, trying to hold TOCs to account.

    In an ideal world TOCs and their frontline staff would not continually fail passengers in a wheelchair and others that also need help.

    I’m well aware that rail staff are not perfect and mistakes can and do happen and this is in no way a dig at the hard working men and women on the front line, nothing can ever be perfect, but my question is this, what more can be done to prevent passengers being let down?
     
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  3. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    Have a dedicated assistance team.
     
  4. flitwickbeds

    flitwickbeds Member

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    Make all platforms on all stations reachable without having to use stairs would be a massive start.
    (Edit to remove accidental quote of post #2)
     
  5. BackOnTheTrain

    BackOnTheTrain Member

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    Have all trains level with platforms and no gaps. I’m thinking of how newer buses now can lower their floors to the ground when people are getting on/off. Surely it wouldn’t be impossible to design new trains with something similar, rather than rebuilding platforms?
     
  6. pompeyfan

    pompeyfan Established Member

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    something like a flip out ramp ala London buses? In theory I’d support that, but there’s a huge amount of hurdles to overcome with that. Additional maintenance, risk of vandalism, the ramp being left out and then delaying the train as traincrew would probably need to investigate, the width of some parts of some platforms would prevent the W/C user from turning safely as they’re too narrow.

    I actually meant what can be done with the current system, to avoid this thread being binned off into the speculative forum.
     
  7. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    Tighten up the system so that it's not filled with Doris requesting assistance to carry her handbag. (An actual real life example from multiple stations)
     
  8. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    What if Doris cannot carry her bag due to health issues. Should Doris not travel?

    Haa there ever been a national review on disability travel and the issues people face?

    What is needed is a statsisical report on why messages requesting assistance are not getting through or not being acted upon if they are.

    When something does go wrong, do the TOCs investigate how and why?

    Could it resolved through software changes?

    Where I work some people were shadowing others to look at how they work and the processes they follow, to see if they could design a more efficient system that helped the staff. They also looked at whether the software being used helped staff do what they needed to do. Perhaps an application only works on a desktop computer but staff aren't always at their desk and so have to write notes in one place and then rewrite it later.
     
  9. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    Have a designated "Rail Disability User Group" or "Champion" for each TOC sensitive to the needs of this cohort; holding regular awareness/mandatory training days for front-line staff and better training/communication
     
  10. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    Who are they, who funds them?
     
  11. OneOffDave

    OneOffDave Member

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    Her handbag request might actually be a proxy for needing other assistance such as navigation that may not be expressed properly

    Who would decide what counts as needing 'proper' assistance? What sort of evidence would be needed?
     
  12. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    It wasnt. And in one of those situations it led to a wheelchair user being denied boarding.
     
  13. OneOffDave

    OneOffDave Member

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    Cool, with medical specialists like you working for the railways, we're sorted
     
  14. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    You dont need to be a medical specialist when they blatantly admit it to your face.
     
  15. option

    option Member

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    Lots of buses have the flip-out ramps, & it's the driver that operates them.

    I know there's train services where there's only the driver, but on others there are staff around that could operate one ramp on one carriage.
     
  16. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    So no different to as it is now then?
     
  17. option

    option Member

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    A flip-out ramp may be easier to manage than having to manhandle the current ones.

    Future ones could even be powered & self-operated.
     
  18. flitwickbeds

    flitwickbeds Member

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    In my opinion having a ramp on a train - however it's operated - doesn't improve anything compared to the situation now. Indeed having ramps at every station (about 2,500) is more cost effective and efficient than having one on every train (tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands)

    The important thing, I'd have thought, is giving people the opportunity to turn up at a time of their choosing and being able to navigate the station and board. That means step free access to every platform at every station, as well as a trained member of staff on duty at every station from first to last train able to operate the ramp on demand.

    The problem is money. I know I'm living in fantasy land!
     
  19. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    Your comment didn't state that they told you they actually didn't need help and they requested it purely because they could.

    Therefore I took the view that without the facts I'll go on the side of perhaps they had a hidden disability.

    I have mutiple hidden disabilities myself. Not enough to require assistance but enough to make some people think why you using a disabled loo when your not disabled.
     
  20. LancasterRed

    LancasterRed Member

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    Consult actual disability groups.

    I ran one for 4 months and had dialogue with Stagecoach. The effects in and around Lancaster of this time are blatant to see. If Lancaster station had issues (bar the slow lifts) they'd have been fixed.

    The best thing ToCs can do is find groups, like Galloway's and larger scale charities that serve towns and cities on their remit, and get a representative in and tell them exactly what the issues are and how they can be fixed. Then there's no excuse as it's right from the horse's mouth.
     
  21. Scott1

    Scott1 Member

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    Certainly at the TOC I work for all trains and platforms have ramps, most platforms have two because of fleet variations. If money were no object I'd like either level boarding across the network, or automatic ramps fitted to each unit, but its not going to happen.

    The biggest flaw for me is the telephone system. One central app to manage this was promised a few years ago and nothing has materialised, as a result in disruption passengers become lost because they are not on the expected service and no one has called the destination to advise where they are now travelling. We have no way to contact the passenger ourselves, and they can't message me directly because the planned app that would've provided this hasn't been delivered.
     
  22. muz379

    muz379 Established Member

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    I think a common theme among railway staff is that we would like better and more frequent training . Its all good and well covering a companies policy on providing assistance whilst training in a role , but 3 or 4 years into that role you might then have never revisited that training .

    Also increased staffing which again is just a wish list . Countless times you will see a member of platform staff having to juggle looking after a passenger or passengers requiring assistance , dispatching trains , directing and dealing with other passengers etc etc . Its alright during off peak times , but during peak times it can quickly become unmanageable , and then the person requiring assistance does not get the attention the extra attention they need or can be left feeling like they are an inconvenience . Bigger stations do have dedicated teams which shares the workload in a better way .

    At the same time , ramps left out in all weathers wont last anywhere near as long . This would be the case at many stations because there is nowhere protected from the elements to store ramps and if there are covered locations to store them they might be locked up when staff are not at the station . And in some areas/stations they might be subject to vandalism , I know of when station where a bench on the platform ended up across the running lines ,ramps would potentially end up the same . I would rather guards know before they embark on a journey down a line with unstaffed stations that they definitely do have the equipment to assist a passenger in a wheelchair onto the train .

    Also its going to be more than just 1 ramp per station in many cases because of stations with multiple platforms which at the very least is a majority , and in some cases its going to be more than one ramp per platform because there is no standardisation so if multiple stock or tocs call at a station then more than one ramp is needed .
     
  23. BackOnTheTrain

    BackOnTheTrain Member

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    Some of the buses here have flip-out ramps (permanently attached to the floor on on edge and then the driver has to get up to flip out the other side), but also, we have buses where the bus can lower itself to the kerb (no ramp) via the driver just pressing a button. That’s more what I was thinking of — instead of relying on staff to physically carry a ramp from storage, wait until the doors are clear, put it in place, wait for or help the passenger use the ramp, then pack it up and carry it away again, have something built into the train itself which can be operated automatically and which can’t be misplaced/lost!

    I didn’t mean to take it off into speculative land though.

    In terms of what could be more easily done to improve accessibility for visually impaired users, the new departure boards on the upper level of St Pancras are fabulous. They’re large, not suspended 50 foot in the air (slight exaggeration perhaps), and if needed you can walk right up to them in order to read them. Other stations should take note.
     
  24. EastCoastway

    EastCoastway Member

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    The main points of failure are a lack of communication on occasion meaning that there could be an assist travelling on a train but we don't know where they are. Unfortunately with one person you can't check a 12 car train in an 2 minute dwell time and then have a realistic chance of getting them off. Short staffing can also have an effect, but nobody goes out of their way to not assista passenger assistance.

    IMO the ideal system (without replacing all rolling stock or having to retrofit magic ramps) would be to overhaul the website that is used; make stations report if someone has joined the train and where and then the stations receiving the assist can get a notification to advise where the person is. That would help quite a bit.
     
  25. Emmsie

    Emmsie Member

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    I agree that communication is absolutely key. I'm part of the assist team and if we know someone is onboard, where they are and what help they need it works brilliantly, the problem is that a lot of staff seem to make it a low priority, when I've called to inform a station of an assistance I've had the response that if they have time they will deal with it. Some of the on train staff also don't help their cause, there is no excuse about not knkowing you have a wheelchair on your train if they get on at Victoria and off at Redhill, thats over 30 minutes to walk a 12 coach. Other passengers don't help either, I've lost count of the amount of times people have asked me questions while I'm in the middle of putting the ramp out and getting a wheelchair off.
     
  26. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    That's because a lot of staff have other more important things to deal with than assists.
     
  27. Emmsie

    Emmsie Member

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    This is what we do at Southern stations and it works well
     
  28. Emmsie

    Emmsie Member

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    Say that to a wheelchair user that is entirely reliant on a member of staff to be able to get on and off the train. Good luck
     
  29. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    I have. The safety of the train and the people on it will always take priority over an assist.
     
  30. muz379

    muz379 Established Member

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    To be fair as on board staff , sometimes if a passenger requiring assistance boards at station A going to station B , depending on the route between the two it can be difficult to ring station B to let them know , large areas without mobile signal , frequent station stops meaning you cannot be on the phone as you have to operate the doors . Sometimes the phone rings out because the station staff are busy doing other things .

    Some station staff dont help either , putting a passenger with assistance onto a train during a layover while the guard has nipped to make a brew or nipped to the toilet but then not letting the guard of the train know on their return. So even if you walk through you might not know, Yes in the case of a passenger in a wheelchair its fairly obvious they are likely to need assistance , but not all disabilities are visible . In some cases if they put a passenger using a wheelchair the other side of a non coridoor connected unit there is a potential for over-carry .
     
  31. jnjkerbin

    jnjkerbin Member

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    It seems bizarre that we still can't get this right. Traveling on a DOO service today, a wheelchair user was put on, presumably by station staff at the origin station. No staff waiting for them at their (unstaffed) stop and driver didn't know they were wanting to get off. Resulted in a Passcom activation and a delay that meant the train was turned short of its destination.
     

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